Are Australian Youth Falling Behind in Tech?

In this digital age, young Australians need to be able to keep up with ever changing technological developments. The IT sector is in constant growth and demands that ore people join the tech industry. However, some factors have succeeded in making the youth fall behind. Although millennials today are heavily dependent on IT, the skills of most do not go beyond the use of social media for entertainment and search engines for educational research. In fact, while youth spend hours traveling through cyberspace, they are unaware of how this invaluable resource can be leveraged beyond the limitations of the superficial scope.

Australia Youth Technology Education

Based on a report published by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), a major cause of this decline in digital education is the level of incompetence among Information and Communications Technology (ICT) teachers. The report states that while educators may have well-prepared curricula, there is a strong need for professional development and hands on learning. Many teachers lack the ability to bridge the gap between technically advanced information and their young students. So much so, that one may find a PH.D. candidate who is clearly well-informed in ICT yet is simply incapable of strategically relating the information to his/her students in a way that they could comprehend.

Following the introduction of a new ICT curriculum, the Australian Computer Society (ACS), has taken the initiative in supporting the new syllabus by hosting the ICT Educators Forum. A number of leading experts will provide a practical explanation of the curriculum and discuss the resources and assistance that are available for the use of educators in their implementation of the syllabus. The ACS hopes to turn this forum into an annual event to create a network of support for ICT teachers around the country.

Additionally, it is important to note that even though most Australian schools are well equipped with advanced technologies such as smart boards, installing more electronic devices is not the solution to this issue. In fact, too much equipment can overwhelm students and have unfavorable effects on their education.

School provides insight into the range of possible future career choices available to students. Therefore, ICT subjects should introduce the youth to the other side of the coin. That is, students should be given the opportunity to transition from being passive users of technology to active producers of digital devices and content. Exposing them to this side of technology may encourage them to join this field and find their place in the growing tech sector.

Fortunately, the Australian government has launched initiatives to address this issue.In May of 2017, Scott Morrison, the Australian Treasurer, released the 2017-18 Federal Budget. In an effort to boost Australia's economic advancement, he has assigned $24 million worth of scholarships to students living in regional and rural areas. The scholarships will fund the studies of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students. These four career paths are considered to be priority fields of study. STEM has also launched other initiatives such as the Coding Across the Curriculum programme, which has been allocated $3.5 million worth of funding.

Another groundbreaking programme is the Pathway in Technology (P-TECH) pilot, an educational model which is aimed at assisting and mentoring STEM students in their shift from school into tertiary education and job opportunities. Additionally, in March of 2017, LifeJourney launched the Day of Stem online platform which allows students to explore a virtual experience of their future at some of Australia's leading tech organisations. About 700 schools have already signed up for this programme and the number continues to rise. Such initiatives help to develop digital literacy amongst students, encourages them to take on in-demand career paths and help in securing the country's future in the process.