Experts predict that in the years to come, 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations will require skills in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).
But we know that unless students are interested and engaged in STEM at an early age, they are unlikely to pursue a career in those fields.
Currently this isn’t the case, with more children dropping out of STEM subjects with every additional year of study. This partly reflects the way STEM subjects are taught, but it also happens because our teachers aren’t properly supported to engage young peoples’ natural curiosity.
This is now an urgent issue that requires immediate action.
Nationally, around 60 per cent of IT teachers and 40 per cent of General Science and maths teachers teaching Years 7-10 classes do not have a tertiary qualification in those areas. We need to do more to support Australia’s great teachers so that they can deliver STEM courses in a way that will inspire and engage young Australians.
Labor has a two-part plan to upskill teachers as an urgent priority, and create a pipeline of future STEM qualified teachers to join the teaching ranks.
Labor will establish a five year STEM teacher training fund that will support 5,000 primary and secondary teachers a year to undertake professional development in STEM disciplines. Coding and programming will be a key focus of this program.
The training fund will ensure the upskilling of around 25,000 existing STEM teachers in primary and secondary education, with these teachers taking their new skills straight to the classroom.
These grants will back our teachers to do what they do best, with the skills and training they need. The grants will be flexible and will allow teachers to work with their schools in determining the best form of professional development.
Labor will work with teaching bodies, TAFEs and State Governments to develop criteria for access to the scheme and the eligible courses and uses of the grants. We will invest $127 million in reskilling teachers over four years, kicking off in the 2017 school year.
More information about Labor’s positive plan is available here.