The National Science Statement, released in 2017, articulates the Government’s commitment to the science sector. It outlines the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as vital building blocks for Australia’s future prosperity and wellbeing.
Rapid technological change is driving new workforce needs. The skills required for work have changed, and will continue to evolve on an increasingly fast basis. Workers need to be able to augment and develop their skills as technology advances in order to fulfil the jobs of the future. STEM skills are critical in this.
STEM skills play a crucial role in innovation, which is a key driver of economic growth. Businesses that innovate are twice as likely to use STEM skills. Research by the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) has found that the integration of STEM skills is important to the success of leading firms and organisations across a wide range of industries. STEM skills, particularly in combination with other interdisciplinary skills – such as entrepreneurialism – provide the problem solving, critical thinking and communication skills that are vital to a wide range of jobs, beyond the narrowly defined traditional disciplines. As many industries become more reliant on technology, the need for STEM skills is becoming increasingly widespread. STEM skills are not just for scientists and engineers – everyone needs some fundamental STEM knowledge, whatever their field of work, as it underpins new and existing industries. A base knowledge of STEM also supports citizen engagement in discussions on many of the big issues facing Australian society – from healthcare to energy use.