WA government launches STEM strategy

The Western Australian government has launched a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills strategy.

The strategy, which was an election commitment for the McGowan government, was developed by a panel made up of industry experts, researchers and educators, and chaired by WA’s Chief Scientist, Professor Peter Klinken.

Called “Future Jobs, Future Skills: Driving STEM skills in Western Australia”, the strategy aims at enhancing the skills of future employees and to retain jobs in WA across the education, industry and technology sectors.

A core objective of the strategy is addressing the current lack of diversity in STEM education and STEM related careers. Women represent just 16 per cent of STEM qualified people in Australia and Aboriginal people represent less than one per cent of higher education engineering and science students.

“Seventy-five per cent of the fastest growing jobs require STEM skills and STEM jobs are growing at one and a half times the rate of non-STEM jobs,” state science minister Dave Kelly said.

“By 2030, workers are expected to spend double the amount of time solving problems, 41 per cent more time on critical thinking and judgement and 77 per cent more time using science and mathematics skills.”

The McGowan government has committed more than $3.3 million to kick-start the delivery of this strategy. This funding includes a four-year professional learning program for more than 1,000 teachers in lower socioeconomic public schools which is already underway.

Other projects in the strategy include mentoring programs, digital and technology programs and the development of a STEM communication campaign.

“Technological change, automation and a diversifying economy mean that every Western Australian needs some level of STEM skills, not just workers in STEM related jobs,” Kelly said.

“If we can get our education, training and policy ahead of the game during this time of rapid change, we can maximise the creation of WA jobs and create a bright future for all.”