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Business turns to Schools Plus to support STEM education

Some of Australia’s leading companies are working with Schools Plus to ensure students from all backgrounds are equipped for careers in science, technology and maths.

Enterprise software company Salesforce and IMC Pacific Foundation, the charitable arm of IMC Financial Markets, are among the organisations forging connections with disadvantaged schools to provide students with 21st century learning opportunities.

Their commitment recognises that more students need to learn STEM skills at school to meet the workforce demands of the future. According to the Federal Government’s Innovation Statement, an estimated 75 per cent of jobs in the fastest-growing industries require workers with STEM skills, but the numbers of Australian students studying science and maths in high school are dropping.

During Computer Science Education Week in December, Salesforce conducted ‘Hour of Code’ sessions and office tours for more than 100 students, including those from Casula High School in Sydney and Wyndham Park Primary School in Melbourne.

Most of the Casula students – 40 girls from Years 7-10 – had never coded before but enjoyed their first session using a Star Wars program. “It’s pretty cool … I was thinking it might be boring but it’s fun,” said Year 10 student, Monique.

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Salesforce.org (Salesforce’s non-profit social enterprise) has donated nearly $50,000 via Schools Plus to introduce coding and robotics programs at the two schools, after Schools Plus helped Salesforce identify the projects it wanted to support. In addition Salesforce employees will volunteer their time to tutor the students.

Salesforce.org’s program director, Shanna Frati, says Salesforce wants to provide opportunities in STEM education to students who may not otherwise have them.

 “It’s important that all schools have STEM-focused curriculum … STEM helps students learn things like critical thinking and problem solving, so they can be the next generation of leaders and innovators. We want everyone to have that opportunity.”

Another business helping to expand the STEM opportunities in disadvantaged schools is IMC. Through its IMC Pacific Foundation, it is supporting the after-school Technology and Learning Centre at Canley Heights Public School in Sydney.

The 40 students who use the centre weekly will benefit from more laptops and tablets and learn a range of new computing skills as a result of the partnership, while teachers will have the resources and knowledge to properly support them.

“So many doors will open with the keys students gain through STEM education,” says Greg Nairn, the IMC Pacific Foundation Lead.

“Having both a highly technical staff behind the IMC Pacific Foundation, together with a focus on ensuring all youth have opportunities to develop their talents and aspirations – it makes so much sense for us to invest our time and money in supporting this area of education.”

You can help give students from a disadvantaged background the opportunity to develop their STEM skills. Visit our Smart Giving Showcase to see a range of school projects you can support or contact Schools Plus to be connected with a school near you.

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