14 July 2022
The future of STEM education is clear.
The future belongs to those who create it.
And right now, an opportunity exists to position Australia as a nation of innovators. To seize this opportunity and compete globally as a skills-based economy, we must focus on the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
With a total economic benefit of over A$290 billion per year from advanced physical and mathematical sciences, there is a clear link between STEM and Australia’s future prosperity.
At BHP, many of our 80,000 employees are STEM professionals and their innovative thinking and problem-solving skills have helped us to achieve vast improvements in productivity. This is critical to our business, particularly in a time of challenging market conditions.
While the demand for STEM professionals is strong, there are not enough people with STEM skills and qualifications. As a nation, we need to address this gap to secure Australia’s international competitiveness.
Research indicates that diversity of thought among STEM professionals leads to better outcomes, however women and Indigenous people remain under-represented in STEM education. An opportunity exists to expand the pipeline of STEM skills by increasing the participation of these groups in STEM topics at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
To support a national effort to address this gap, the BHP Foundation, a charitable organisation funded by BHP, developed innovative partnerships to improve STEM outcomes for key target groups. Over A$55 million has been committed by the Foundation to Australian programs to increase interest and academic achievement in STEM subjects and related professions.
BHP is also partnering with the Australian Government by investing $30 million in the Future of Work program to create new training opportunities for up to 1000 Australians in regional areas. The program’s aim is to strengthen the economic resilience in regional communities through advanced apprenticeships, skills and short-course training opportunities, targeted to address the specific needs of local workforces and small businesses.
For these participants, and for all of us, the future is clear if we continue to think big.