STEM skills: Inspiring the next generation of technologists

STEM skills: Inspiring the next generation of technologists

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Malcolm X

Technology is advancing at an ever increasing pace. It’s changing the way we interact, live and work. It’s up to today’s leaders and educators to prepare the next generation to be able to thrive in this environment and drive the next wave of innovation. Seven technology leaders took the stage to discuss how to inspire and engage the next generation of technologists at CeBIT Australia 2017. This blog post summarises some of the key points that were brought up in the debate.

Making technology skills more tangible

“Inspiring students is ultimately about tapping into people's passion,” said Alan Noble, Head of Engineering at Google ANZ, adding it was important to get better at promoting the benefits of STEM education to students. “Taking STEM subjects is not all about becoming an engineer. Most of the great breakthroughs these days happen at the intersection of different fields.”

According to Dr William Raffe, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at UTS it was up to educators to show children what STEM skills could be useful for. “The challenge will be to bridge the gap between how different STEM skills are applied to solve everyday problems,” said Raffe. “We need to make it a lot clearer that anyone can do this. If you do love to solve problems, this field is for you.”

Engaging parents and teachers

However to enlighten this sort of passion with students it takes the understanding of parents and teachers. “We find that a lot of educators struggle with new technologies,” observed Kelly Tagalan, General Manager of Code Club Australia. “We need to focus more on building their confidence, so they can then inspire children about the possibilities of the field.” And Noble added: “Technology organisations can play a big role in helping to educate teachers. Professionals in the field have a real craving for personal development.”

Cuberider’s Managing Director, Wade McDonough stressed that getting children excited about STEM skills required the involvement of their wider environment and couldn’t just be limited to teachers: “Selling to students is difficult. You need to get the parents, community and friends involved to make an impact.”

Adopting an attitude of lifelong learning

Ongoing education beyond the university years was also a subject close to the panelists’ hearts. “We just have to accept that the times when we only had one career in our lifetime is definitely over,” emphasised Noble. “We need to ignite a passion for lifelong learning in young people.”

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