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IT & STEM Education in an ‘Absolute Crisis’

Wow! Matt Barrie is now stating my argument re IT Education that I have been pushing for years! I am now even more concerned that we will struggle to recover as a State and Nation:
“Most worrying to me, the number of students studying information technology in Australia has fallen by between 40 and 60% in the last decade depending on whose numbers you look at. Likewise, enrolments in other hard sciences and STEM subjects such as maths, physics and chemistry are falling too. Enrolments in engineering have been rising, but way too slowly.
 
This is all while we have had a 40% increase in new undergraduate students as a whole.
 
Women once made up 25 percent of students commencing a technology degree, they are now closer to 10 percent.
 
All this in the middle of a historic boom in technology. This situation is an absolute crisis. If there is one thing, and one thing only that you do to fix this industry, it’s get more people into it. To me, the most important thing Australia absolutely has to do is build a world class science & technology curriculum in our K-12 system so that more kids go on to do engineering.
 
In terms of maths & science, the secondary school system has declined so far now that the top 10% of 15-year olds are on par with the 40-50% band of of students in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
 
For technology, we lump a couple of horrendous subjects about technology in with woodwork and home economics. In 2017, I am not sure why teaching kids to make a wooden photo frame or bake a cake are considered by the department of education as being on par with software engineering. Yes there is a little bit of change coming, but it’s mostly lip service.
 
Meanwhile, in Estonia, 100% of publicly educated students will learn how to code starting at age 7 or 8 in first grade, and continue all the way to age 16 in their final year of school.
 
At my company, Freelancer.com, we’ll hire as many good software developers as we can get. We’re lucky to get one good applicant per day. On the contrary, when I put up a job for an Office Manager, I received 350 applicants in 2 days.
 
But unfortunately the curriculum in high school continues to slide, and it pays lip service to technology and while kids would love to design mobile apps, build self-driving cars or design the next Facebook, they come out of high school not knowing that you can actually do this as a career.”
 For a short summary of the economic issues specially see here
Matt Barrie is an award winning technology entrepreneur. He is Chief Executive of Freelancer.com, the world’s largest freelancing marketplace.
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