​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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags STEM skillssasskills shortageeducationSTEMHays

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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?