WiseTech Global (ASX:WTC), one of Australia’s most successful technology companies, has pledged 1% of its annual pre-tax profit to enable tech education initiatives that develop technology skills and passion for creatively solving real-world problems in school-age children. Partnering with Grok Academy for an initial 5 year period, the funds will enable all Australian K-12 students to enhance their Digital Technologies experience encouraging more students into IT careers and helping Australia produce its own tech workers.
The Tech Council of Australia forecast that Australia will need to employ an additional 653,000 tech workers by the end of the decade, at a time when vacancy rates in tech are 60% higher than the national average and tech jobs are forecast to grow at triple the rate. “Early exposure to the exciting and creative world of digital technology skills is critical. We know that what students experience in primary school and in the early high school years strongly influences what they elect to study later in high school. It’s also the time to dispel social myths about what’s appropriate for girls to study, so that they don’t self-select out of technology subjects. Even though more girls than boys go on to tertiary studies, 73% of students studying in the STEM field are male. Ultimately this means Australian businesses are missing out on a huge chunk of the potential talent pool of locally grown tech professionals. The technology sector, which includes tech jobs across a wide range of industries, provides amazing career opportunities. Not only does it offer better job security, flexibility and diversity, it also gives people the opportunity to use creative thinking to solve real-world problems and to create an important part of the future,” continued White.
Starting in FY22 with a contribution of over AUD$2.5m, the funds will initially be used to make the Grok Academy online platform and classroom resources available free of charge to all K-12 students, teachers and parents across Australia. The Grok / WiseTech road map will include developing new Digital Technologies and Digital Literacy teaching resources. These initiatives are in addition to WiseTech continuing its existing support of outreach programs that encourage students to build deeper skills such as Grok’s annual National Computer Science School Challenge.
“We have a fantastic opportunity to reach into schools and help students learn valuable skills and understand the strong professional and economic drivers of a career in technology. Australia needs to build a strong pipeline of talented people to shape our technology future or we will lose this opportunity,” says Richard White, CEO and Founder, WiseTech Global. “Accessible education for all Australian school students starting early and creating curiosity and agile minds that make the world better through technology, will be a powerful long term driver of the economy and long term solution to the current technology skills shortage. By taking a deep, grass roots approach we want to ensure all students, regardless of gender, economic circumstance or geography, have a positive technology experience at an early age, inspiring more students to embark on further technology studies and careers. We’re passionate about this and we’re taking positive action by working with Grok Academy,” White continues.
A recent study revealed only 26% to 50% of Australian primary school teachers and 52% to 69% of high school teachers considered themselves proficient at teaching computer education. “Teachers are being asked to teach skills that many of them did not learn themselves in school,” James Curran, CEO of Grok Academy explains. “Our aim is to help teachers by providing a range of classroom-ready online courses, competitions and activities that are all aligned to the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies. Our programmes are designed to guide students to develop practical computational thinking skills and are developed by qualified classroom teachers with hands-on experience of the challenges facing many teachers today. While we’re proud that approximately 25,000 students and teachers take part in Grok’s National Computer Science School Challenge each year, it’s just a small proportion of the total 4 million primary and secondary students in Australia. We can do more.”
“WiseTech’s generous contribution removes the barrier of cost to participate in our programmes, enabling more kids from economically disadvantaged backgrounds access. It’s a fantastic initiative and we hope that many more schools and teachers across the nation will be able to make use of these tools to help their students consider IT careers.” The Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon. Ed Husic MP, commented as he welcomed WiseTech’s announcement. “It is vital Australia has the skills base for the jobs of the future. I can think of no better way to kick-start this than for all school kids having free access to one of the best online coding classrooms around. “The Albanese Government wants Australia to hit 1.2 million tech-related jobs by 2030. To reach that target, we are going to need a lot of young Australians on board from an early age to build those skills and see the creative side that they can offer. Grok Academy is a real Australian success story, too. So it’s great to see Australian companies supporting each other in the tech space.”
For further information visit, grokacademy.org