“Personally I’d like every child to do programming and robotics classes from pre-school,” she says. “Some schools do have robotics classes [at a primary level] but those that do only do it for grades five and six. So there are a whole lot of children out there actually missing out.”
" “We need to help our children be equipped with the skills they need to actually have a job in the future.” - Penelope Taylor
The gap between growing demand in STEM-related roles (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and those with the skills to meet it is well reported - as is the growing risk to businesses from the deficit not being filled before it starts having a financial impact.
According to the Foundation for Young Australians, roughly 70 per cent of young people who enter the workforce do so in jobs which will soon be radically hit by automation. Importantly, more than half of Australian workers will need to be able to use, configure or build digital systems in the next two to three years.
It’s a similar story offshore. According to the US Department of Commerce, employment in STEM fields grew much faster than employment in non-STEM areas over the last decade – with a gap of more than 20 per cent. By 2024 STEM roles are projected to grow by 8.9 per cent - compared with 6.4 per cent elsewhere.
From a business risk perspective, there’s no clearer danger than the one present in cybersecurity. The skills shortage in the sector raises the risk of significant cyberattacks on businesses until it is addressed. A report from the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network suggests the sector in Australia needs a minimum of 11,000 additional sets of hands over the next decade to provide adequate protection.
With around 60 per cent of current Australian students being trained in jobs which will be radically changed by automation, providing early kids an early introduction into robotics and programming isn’t just a nice-to-have – it’s a must-have idea.
Closing the gap
Taylor is a compliance manager at ANZ and an avid robotics enthusiast. With the bank for more than 11 years, she has worked across a broad range of teams in operational risk and compliance.
“I can see with robotics, automation and changes in industries across the board, we need to help our children be equipped with the skills they need to actually have a job in the future,” she tells bluenotes.
To help address the gap, Taylor has launched of Alphabet Robot, an educational children’s book aimed at providing an introduction into robotics terminology and concepts at an early age.