Digital technology and Australian teenagers: consumption, study and careers

Digital communications Education Information technology Youth Australia

In this report, detailed primary evidence regarding high school student use of ICT, perceptions of use of ICT at school, perceptions of ICT as a discipline, and motivations regarding career choices was generated.

Australian teenagers have welcomed digital technologies into their daily lives with open arms. As one Year 12 girl said of her mobile phone, “I just like having it with me”. Although this thirst for technology consumption does not always translate into an interest in pursuing technology as a career, the need to encourage more young people to take up careers in Information and Communication Technology is a question of Australian national interest. Sustaining and increasing productivity in modern economies largely depends on the application of new technology, and current and projected labour force figures suggest we do not have sufficient graduates entering ICT jobs. This report details findings of a research study commissioned by the Australian Computer Society, conducted with 202 subjects aged 12-18 years at government and non-government high schools in the Australian Capital Territory in 2012.

Findings indicate a range of student misperceptions about the study of ICT; some are related to gender; others to age; others to school ICSEA rank; or a combination of these.
There is considerable scope, particularly in early high school, to take advantage of students’ interest in computers; to develop an interest in studying ICT; and to challenge misperceptions about ICT careers. A range of initiatives and interventions can be developed and implemented by professional bodies, educators and other stakeholders to target these opportunities.

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