For Australia to succeed in the digital economy, we need a workforce of young people with skills in computational thinking and computer science.
To ensure all Australians benefit, we must ensure more young women in particular are inspired to learn to code.
Today Labor has announced a $4.5 million grants program to promote, encourage and inspire more Australian girls to learn coding.
Australia will need an extra 100,000 people skilled in ICT by 2020 if we are to keep pace with rising demand.
But in the last decade, the number of young women starting IT courses at university has fallen dramatically from 1 in 4 to 1 in 10.
To improve rates of participation by women in technology jobs, we need to spark girls’ interest by starting early, highlighting role models and demonstrating diverse career paths.
Labor’s $4.5 million grants program will provide opportunities for girls to experience the creative side of ICT and challenge persistent stereotypes.
Organisations like Code Club Australia, Code Like a Girl, Robogals, Code Camp, Tech Girls Movement, CoderDojo and many others are already doing great work inspiring young women and girls to code.
Labor will build on these programs by making grants of up to $150,000 available for projects run by organisations like these, enabling them to scale up their activities across the country and boost girls’ participation in computational training.
These grants will help facilitate more mentoring and access to role models, networking opportunities, train volunteer teachers and connect coding programs to schools building confidence in girls to take up further study, showcase their talent and immerse young women in technology businesses.
A focus of this program will be to ensure stronger partnerships with schools, skilled professionals as mentors, and tech companies who have shown leadership in this area like Telstra, Westpac, Google, Microsoft and Intel.
The jobs of the future will require the ability to not just operate computers, but to program them.
Leaving women out of technology is cutting in half our chance of succeeding as a nation in seizing the opportunities of the digital economy.
Today’s announcement is the latest in Labor’s comprehensive plan to ensure all Australians benefit from the transition to the digital economy - to secure today’s jobs, tomorrow’s jobs and ensure that no one is left behind.
A Shorten Labor Government will also:
- Promote the teaching of coding and computational thinking in every primary and secondary school in Australia;
- Boost the number of young Australians taking up STEM courses at university as well as upskill 25,000 teachers;
- Offer a Startup Year at university to young Australians looking to start their own enterprise;
- Attract the best entrepreneurial talent from around the world and help build Australia’s growing startup economy through two new visa categories;
- Get startups to help solve government problems through Challenge Platforms and support startups to compete in government tenders;
- Generate the skills required for our emerging digital economy now through a National Digital Workforce Plan;
- Back in great ideas through co-investing in early stage and high potential companies through the $500 million Smart Investment Fund; and
- Improve access to finance for micro-businesses through a partial guarantee scheme, Startup Finance.
Labor’s proposals have been costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office.
Funding for this policy will be offset from existing announcements Labor has made in making sure multinational companies pay their fair share of tax in Australia, reducing superannuation tax concessions and abolishing the Emissions Reduction Fund.
For further details on Labor’s announcement see: www.futuresmartaustralia.org
WEDNESDAY, 28 OCTOBER 2015