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STEM learning for a digital world

January 22, 2019

Nowadays, there seems to be an even bigger need for young people to learn a new range of skills in order to succeed in their careers. With the rise in technology and digital software companies, there is a bigger demand than ever to learn skills in analytical-based subjects.

Recent research has indicated that, three-quarters of the fastest growing occupations will require STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills. According to Karen Taylor Brown, writer for the CEO magazine, only 16% of students graduate with a STEM degree and for every STEM-qualified individual there are two STEM related job vacancies. At present, there are around 500,000 computing jobs open, and this is expected to increase to one million by 2020.

With the rise in technology careers, there is an increasing demand to prioritise STEM learning over some more traditional subjects. Which is why coding is already a compulsory subject in primary schools in some parts of Australia and worldwide. The primary school syllabus aims to give children a better understanding of information technology and scientific subjects so that they can be ready for more advanced learning at secondary school.   

While these subjects may not appeal to a lot of students, educational experts encourage at least a basic level of coding and analytical education, in order to provide the foundations for future learning in these areas. "These are tools of the children's world, these are tools of their culture, these are tools that will be critical for their school readiness and success” says US-based academic Dr Chip Donohue.   

The goal is to improve children’s computational thinking, so that they are encouraged to break down problems into bite-size chunks. Similarly, to how managers and CEOs break down business issues into team-based solutions.

With the rise in technological demands, more schools are thinking of ways in which they can incorporate tech programs and subjects into their syllabus. Such as, interactive learning, using cutting-edge technology and teaching programs focused on discovery, innovation and problem-solving. Educational schools and early learning centres for children as young as three, are integrating technology by providing them with tablets and cameras to document their play and learning times.

Schools offering strong STEM programs and technology classes should be considered as major contenders for prospective parents when choosing a school for their child. Despite the controversy surrounding how much ‘screen time’ a child should be exposed to, the need for STEM skills are becoming more important as we continue to live in an ever-increasing digital world. For this reason, it would seem beneficial for children to start learning technological skills from an early age.

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