Workshops give girls a head start in STEM

Workshops give girls a head start in STEM

A recent report sounded the alarm on Australia’s STEM skills gap, revealing that 75% of employers had difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified or skilled people.

According to the findings of the study, the highest shortage occupations are Technicians and Trades Workers and Professionals, all in STEM fields.

Compounding this issue, data from the Office of the Chief Scientist’s 2016 Australia’s STEM Workforce report shows that only 16% of qualified STEM population are women. Women also take up just 27% of the total STEM workforce across all sectors.

To help address this issue, more than 500 primary and secondary school students and their teachers are converging at the Girls’ Tech Day event in Blacktown to inspire girls from Year 4-12 to consider a career in STEM.

Hands-on tech activities for students will be presented by Blacktown GHS’s 4802 Robotics Team, Amazon Web Services, Defence Force Recruiting, Vodafone, the University of Wollongong (Science Space), TAFE NSW and many others.

Putting the spotlight on exciting career options

Gihan Ebaid, TAFE NSW Team Leader of Information Technology, said the event promotes the range of post-school study options and career opportunities available to school leavers that they might not have considered previously.

“TAFE NSW facilitate and participate in events such as the Girls’ Tech Day to give students a hands-on experience of a range of STEM-related certificates, diplomas and degrees in cybersecurity, programming and pathology,” Ebaid told The Educator.

“We will present four hands-on workshops for participants to learn practical IT skills in a range of vocational career areas including health services, manufacturing, technology and creative design”.

Teachers from the TAFE will present an Accuvein workshop, which will show participants how to view human blood cells using a microscope attached to an iPhone.

“There will also be a virtual reality workshop where students will see how TAFE NSW uses augmented and virtual reality technologies in our creative and design courses,” Ebaid said.

More female role models needed

Ebaid pointed to some of the most significant obstacles to female engagement in tech, and explained how higher education providers such as TAFE NSW are trying to overcome them.

“Unfortunately, stereotypes have deterred some women from considering careers in the tech industry,” Ebaid said.

“As a result, a lack of female role models means that career opportunities are not being promoted to women.”

Ebaid said TAFE NSW facilitates industry events such as Girls’ Tech Day and state-wide events such as the TAFE NSW InfoFest so that students can get a taste of practical courses and speak with teachers and industry representatives.

“TAFE NSW also offers a range of tech-based courses, from certificates to degrees, to suit women at any stage of their career.”