A STEM network and the new Ballarat Tech School would have blown the mind of a young Adam Spencer.
The media presenter, mathematician and self-confessed geek is passionate about science, technology, engineering and mathematics and believes most jobs in the future will need STEM skills.
“STEM science will build this country in the future,” Mr Spencer said after speaking to delegates at the Ballarat STEM Network.
“Data, analytics, algorithms, design, alternative energy, retail, marketing, information and media will be built by STEM architects so if we can provide kids in high school with a genuine structure and informed introduction to this stuff then we give them a chance to give it a go and find a pathway,” he said.
As a high school student, Mr Spencer said he would have loved the STEM network, and the Ballarat Tech School, which will open next year.
He’s a little jealous of the secondary school students who will take part in the various Ballarat Tech school programs, but is imbued with a confidence that it will set students thinking about careers they would otherwise not have considered.
“We need to change the way people think about what the really important careers are,” he said.
“There’s a critical shortage of STEM scientists, there’s a critical shortage of computer programmers and even a shortage of people with a passion for teaching this stuff.
“Just look at how fast things are changing, not just in my boutique area of pure mathematics, but in pharmaceuticals, radio astronomy, retail, mobile phones, home computing, pretty much everything.”
Mr Spencer said having the skills to be able to adapt to new studies and new technologies would be the key to being successful in the coming decades.
“What they will need is skills to be able to learn how to learn. They need rigorous intelligent thought processes so when they move in to a new industry or job, once the role and rules are explained to them they can problem solve and build within that.
“The sort of thing happening here is great because it’s not just blackboard mathematics. When you show kids how robotics work, how coding can make devices work, or when you introduce people to virtual reality systems, that’s when you start to excite people as to the potential.”