Tuesday, 12 March 2019 11:06

NBN Co launches 'STEMpreneur' initiative for Australian students

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NBN Co, builders of the national broadband network, has launched its annual STEM program, this year focusing on helping young Australian students develop a combination of STEM and entrepreneurial skills.

The NBN "STEMpreneur" initiative has been designed to help young Australian students prepare for what NBN Co describes as the “new world of work”.

Eight schools across the country, from Cairns in the far north to Alice Springs in central Australia, will participate in  the 12-week virtual learning initiative designed to give students an understanding of how technology can help them develop STEM and entrepreneurial skills, critical for the future work force.

Delivered in partnership with the Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN), the initiative kicked off on Tuesday in Hobart with a workshop and briefing for students on how to apply STEM and entrepreneurial skills to develop a new idea for a social enterprise which will benefit the local community.

AlphaBeta research commissioned by NBN Co into the future of education and jobs has found that STEM and entrepreneurial skills are highly sought-after capabilities by employers and by 2030, three in four Australians will spend more time using STEM and entrepreneurial skills in the workforce.

NBN Co says the world of work is changing with high-touch and high-skill jobs growth on the rise while lower-skill, routine jobs are declining.

The research found that digital economy jobs, in particular, are growing 10 percentage points faster than all other jobs and by 2030 more than 90% of Australia’s workforce will be either using, configuring or building digital technology at work.

Kathrine Dyer, chief network deployment officer at NBN Co, said: “We see the NBN STEMpreneur initiative as an innovative and exciting way to equip students with STEM and entrepreneurial skills by leveraging technology and opening up a world of online learning opportunities.

“Digital infrastructure is becoming more critical to both learning and career opportunities for Australians. Access to fast broadband is driving growth in Australian entrepreneurship and is forecast to create 31,000 jobs by 2021, including 19,000 in regional Australia.

“We are committed to help open up opportunities for today’s and the future’s business leaders to stay local, no matter where they live, to take their goods and services to Australia and the world.”

“Entrepreneurialism is a vital mindset for the next generation. Whether these young people will start their own businesses or work in established organisations, having the skills and mindset to come up with innovative ideas, and persevere to bring them to reality creates enormous opportunity for them. Technology and broader STEM skills will be critical for the future workforce, so we are very excited to put these elements together,” said Allegra Spender, chief executive at ABCN.

“Technology is also creating the opportunity to augment and change offline learning with online tools and approaches, and it is great to be partnering with nbn at the forefront of this.”

Robotics expert and STEMpreneur ambassador Marita Cheng said: “Technology is the future of business and I am an advocate for young Australians who are curious and driven to solve real-world business challenges creatively, through innovation.

“I believe age and background should not be a barrier to entrepreneurialism. Young people from all over the country, from Hobart to Alice Springs and even Cairns where I grew up, are destined to be inventors and business leaders with the power to generate real and positive change.”

Following a workshop tour by NBN Co and ABCN, each team will have two months to develop their idea, and the program will culminate in an opportunity to pitch their business concept to a panel of industry experts who will determine the winning idea.

The judging panel will include Dyer, Spender and Cheng, with the winning school receiving a STEM-themed tech prize pack.

The participating schools are:

  • Para Hills Primary School, Adelaide, SA
  • Islington Public School, Newcastle, NSW
  • Bowen Road Primary, Hobart, TAS
  • Larapinta Primary School, Alice Springs, NT
  • Parramatta State School, Cairns, QLD
  • Victoria Park State School, Mackay, QLD
  • Parkwood Primary School, Perth, WA
  • Canadian Lead Primary, Ballarat, VIC

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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