New partnerships between Google and three Australian not for profits will introduce and inspire 10,000 underrepresented young Australians to careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.
The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), FIRST Robotics Australia, and Engineers Without Borders Australia, will share in $1 million from Google.org to deliver hands-on training and career programs that will reach girls, Indigenous Australians, and students from low socio-economic and regional areas - all currently underrepresented in STEM careers.
'Australia's future prosperity depends on new skills but the numbers show we're not producing enough graduates in these technical areas," says Alan Noble, Engineering Director for Google Australia.
'There has been a 36% decline in the number of students undertaking computer science degrees between 2001 and 2013, and today there are only 12,000 graduates every year. Overall enrollments in STEM degrees are flat", says Noble.
'Even more concerning is the lack of diversity in this field. If Australia is to develop technology that serves the needs of all Australians, and markets all over the world, we'll need fresh thinking and new perspectives. It's critical that students from all walks of life are introduced to this field and have the opportunity to shape it and benefit from it," says Maile Carnegie, Managing Director for Google Australia.
'I welcome the announcement as it further underlines the importance of careers in STEM and encouraging more students to study STEM subjects, something the Australian Government strongly supports," said the Minister for Education and Training, The Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, who helped launch these partnerships at an event at Google's offices in Sydney.
'Google is well placed to shine a light on what skills future jobs need and to inspire our children to grasp the opportunities that new technology brings."
AIME will develop and incorporate STEM content into their Year 7 and 8 curriculum for Indigenous students, making the subjects relevant through experience-based learning. The program will increase the digital skillset of 4,000 Indigenous students by 2018.
FIRST Robotics Australia will take its FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Robotics programs into 150 new schools, providing a robotics set, teacher mentoring and support to student groups across Australia. FIRST will reach more than 1,500 students among low-SES areas, regional and other underrepresented groups, building teamwork and inspiring young Australians in the fields of engineering and computer science.
Engineers Without Borders Australia will expand its 'Regioneering Roadshow", which will give hands-on, STEM and computer science-focused training to 5,000 young people, with a particular focus on young women. The Google grant will double the existing program's geographic reach and connect young professional engineers to community, youth and school groups across regional Australia.
Jack Manning-Bancroft, CEO of AIME, says: 'When you open up the possibilities of STEM subjects for kids, you unlock imagination. With these skills, we'll see the next generation of Indigenous scientists, engineers and mathematicians helping to solve some of the big questions of the future, like how we better care for ourselves, each other and the environment. For a lot of Indigenous kids out there that might shut the door on their maths and science future in high school, this is about getting in early while kids are in Year 7 and 8, and inspiring them to keep that imagination open."
Lizzie Brown, CEO of Engineers Without Borders Australia, says: "Technology and engineering can provide breakthrough solutions to some of the world's biggest problems, from water and sanitation, shelter to clean energy. We'll need more and more Australians bringing diverse and creative perspectives to help tackle these problems, and that means increasing the participation of women in this field, who currently only make up 11% of the industry's workforce. With a membership of over 41% female across all parts of Australia, Engineers Without Borders is in a unique position to make this happen."
Luan Heimlich, Regional Director FIRST Australia, says: "Australia's future jobs will increasingly depend on technical skills founded on science, technology, engineering and maths. We must give kids from all backgrounds every opportunity to ignite their passions and become tomorrow's innovators."
Today's three cash grants are part of a $6.2m investment over the last 12 months by Google to ensure the benefits of technology can be enjoyed by all Australians. Child safety group The Alannah and Madeline Foundation are also a major grantee, receiving $1.2M in January 2015. Google employs more than 1200 people in Australia, including 600 engineers.
For more information visit www.google.com.au/startwithcode