As society becomes more technology dependent, careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (collectively known as STEM careers) are the future, argues David Van Gogh on ABC News.
But with our outdated school curriculum and poor participation in maths classes, Australia has insufficient STEM-qualified workers to fill the skills demand, and local companies are increasingly looking offshore for technology workers.
Urgent change is needed to stem the flow of technology jobs moving offshore.
At the beginning of the 1980s, one in three Australians was employed in the largely manual industries of agriculture, mining or manufacturing; this has declined to one in 10. The decline will only continue, with the Committee for Economic Development of Australia estimating that 40 per cent of all jobs that exist today will be replaced by automation.
As these jobs disappear, they are being replaced by new jobs and new industries grounded in technology. These changes have created tremendous opportunities for tech-savvy entrepreneurs.
Unfortunately, by the time children reach Year 12 in most of Australia, their only compulsory subject is English.
Sound literacy, the ability to write, and the power to persuade are all critical skills. However, by the time students reach Year 12, English classes focus primarily on literature. This is a severe disconnect from the reality of skills-based employment.
Unfortunately, one in every four students chooses not to study maths during years 11 and 12, contributing to much lower STEM university enrolment rates than Australia needs.
We need to make maths a compulsory school subject, to increase the availability of STEM careers to our children and to stem the flow of our technology jobs offshore.