In the past 100 years, drilling technology has evolved from steam-powered drill rigs drilling on land to state-of-the-art drillships able to drill thousands of metres below the seafloor, staying perfectly in place using dynamic positioning.
Technology is evolving quickly, and STEM education is needed to keep up with these advancements, according to the Western Australia Department of Education.
“The global economy is changing. Current jobs are disappearing due to automation and new jobs are emerging every day as a result of technological advances,” the Department of Education said.
The State Government says that through STEM, students develop key skills, including problem-solving, creativity, critical analysis, teamwork, independent thinking, initiative, communication, and digital literacy.
The Federal Government this month announced a plan to overhaul university degree costs to make STEM more appealing to young students in an effort to increase STEM literacy and create a job-ready workforce from university, especially in the wake of COVID-19.
“To power our post-COVID economic recovery, Australia will need more educators, more health professionals and more engineers, and that is why we are sending a price signal to encourage people to study in areas of expected employment growth,” Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said.
Mr Tehan invited university vice-chancellors to work with the Government to design a $900 million industry fund that will support universities and industry working together, with a strong focus on investing in STEM.
The National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund is being developed to build STEM literacy by developing internships and practicums between universities and industries in STEM.
Oil and gas majors also understand this imperative to build STEM literacy, and many have developed programs to help in this endeavour.
Woodside works with Earth Science Western Australia, sending trained volunteers to primary and secondary schools to run activities and share stories that spark curiosity about STEM. The program has reached more than 10,000 students since 2016.
“With a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), you could be predicting outcomes, solving industry problems and exploring new technologies that may address some of today’s challenges, while improving people’s lives,” Woodside said. “That’s the thinking behind our innovative STEM in Schools Program, which has been recognised internationally by the World Petroleum Congress.”
Shell sponsors the Shell Questacon Science Circus, a travelling circus in which post-graduate students studying Science Communication Outreach at the Australian National University introduce children to STEM through interactive exhibits in regional Australia.
Over the past few years, there has been discussion around the concept of changing STEM to STEAM by integrating the arts into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The reason for this discussion has to do with the notion of not simply learning how to complete a task, but also why.
Bronwen Wade-Leeuwen, Project Manager, Sustainability Research, Macquarie University; Jessica Vovers, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering PhD Candidate, University of Melbourne; and Melissa Sil, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney discussed in an article on The Conversation the integration of Arts into STEM, saying: “The main difference between STEM and STEAM is STEM explicitly focuses on scientific concepts. STEAM investigates the same concepts but does this through inquiry and problem-based learning methods used in the creative process.
“Business and industry broadcast that future-ready employees need to have multiple areas of expertise or at least appreciate how a range of skills fit together,” they said.
The Australian Curriculum uses the arts to enhance different areas of study, similar to the concept of STEAM.
One such course is Consumer and Financial Literacy: The Arts, where students “use arts knowledge and skills to represent, express, and communicate ideas, imagination, observations and knowledge about financial and economic matters, issues and challenges”.