This year we were delighted to build on the success of last year’s pilot program Innovate in partnership with ABCN member, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Innovate is designed specifically to inspire engagement and uptake of STEM subjects among secondary students.
Initially piloted in NSW and VIC, PwC enthusiastically supported Innovate in five states this year extending the program to Qld, SA and WA. The program has been a huge success – so much so that it was acknowledged internationally with a Gold Global Best Award in the STEM category for the Australia & Oceania region.
Widespread enthusiasm for Innovate has meant that PwC has kindly allowed the program to be brought into ABCN’s core program offering in 2017.
Innovate was borne from research demonstrating the rapid increase of students, particularly in low socio-economic areas, opting out of, or performing poorly in STEM subjects. This is despite the reality that 75% of the fastest-growing jobs require STEM skills. Boosting student engagement in STEM subjects is critical to expand career options for disadvantaged students, increase potential STEM candidates at tertiary level, and future-proof Australia’s workforce. PwC is leading the way for change.
‘The nature of the work we do in Australia is changing’, says PwC’s STEM Leader Tony Peake. ‘We must ensure the students of today have the right skills and training for the jobs of tomorrow.’
Innovate targets Year 7 and 8 students with the aim of building interest and confidence around STEM in the early years of high school. Working in small groups with mentors, students experience STEM in real life with opportunities to solve complex problems and demonstrate innovation, creativity and critical thinking. The goal is to encourage the continuation of STEM subjects in high school and establish the link between STEM skills and future careers.
‘ABCN is fortunate to have the support of member companies such as PwC, who enable us to continue developing programs that respond to a constantly evolving employment landscape’, says ABCN CEO, Jacqui Jones. ‘We’re immensely proud of Innovate as a high impact mentoring program that is win-win – addressing a need both for industry and for the young students with whom we work.’
Feedback from the pilot programs in Victoria and NSW revealed 100% of PwC mentors would like to be involved in the program again and 81% of students reporting they were more interested in STEM subjects following the program. Several member companies have already committed to running Innovate in 2017 and extensive interest from other companies and schools indicates that the program will quickly cement itself as a steadfast ABCN offering.
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