​Pushing STEM in high school is too little, too late

Fixing skills shortage requires earlier intervention and equal opportunities for low-income families

STEM skills should be taught at a much younger age if there is any hope of filling the growing skills gap, according to Hays Recruitment's A/NZ boss, Nick Deligiannis.

Programs aimed at engaging secondary students in science, technology and mathematics (STEM) subjects are leaving it too late, Deligiannis said, as older students have already begun choosing their elective subjects and developing opinions about their career.

“If children were made aware of STEM careers, and STEM-related learning experiences were implemented earlier, it could inspire an interest in those subjects and ultimately, careers,” he said.

“[Young students] would learn that these subjects actually encompass a lot of modern and exciting technologies, such as artificial intelligence and software engineering,” he said.

Hays have called for collaboration between government, businesses, educational institutes and parents to develop a solution to create more workers with crucial STEM capabilities. The skills shortage has reached crisis levels as many current STEM workers reaching retirement age.

Deligiannis said it was important for parents to also become aware earlier on around STEM education and career opportunities.

“Engineering is such a broad term. Children, parents and teachers should be told about the various aspects and job types so that there’s a coordinated response to the STEM skill shortage.”

The recruitment firm’s stance echoed the sentiments of by SAS founder, Dr Jim Goodnight, who last year told CIO Australia that solving the STEM skills shortage should start at pre-school, with a need for better educational opportunities for students that come from lower-income families.

Dr Goodnight’s comments reflected the higher likelihood that students from low-income families would struggle with school and potentially drop out, with fewer opportunities from the outset compared to their wealthier peers.

“A low income child who has been raised by a single parent has a much smaller vocabulary, they haven’t been asked ‘what colour is this, what letter is this?’ like middle and upper class families do all the time,” said Dr Goodnight.

“We've got to find a way to bring the low income children up to the level of some of the other kindergarten kids. You've got to start at some point and it won’t pay off for 12 or 13 years.

“It’s crazy to keep [offering] a remedial education to kids that have sort of half dropped out of school because they can’t keep up. Let’s start with preschool right now to make sure everybody has got a good start.”

Dr Goodnight praised Australia as currently “doing a better job” in addressing the skills shortage than the US, with Australia ranked 19th for maths in the program for international student assessment (PISA) while the US is placed 34th.

He said it was also worth considering if teachers that specialised in STEM subjects could be paid more as it was a crucial area, and would serve as a good incentive for all teachers to become aware and trained in STEM studies and careers.

“The idea of differentiated pay is somewhat controversial to the teacher unions but it’s something that’s necessary if we are going to retain the best and brightest teachers in the STEM area,” Dr Goodnight said.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags STEM skillssasskills shortageeducationSTEMHays

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Bonnie Gardiner
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?