SAP Australia and national children’s education charity, The Smith Family, have teamed up to create the Young ICT Explorers Accelerator Program to provide schools and teachers in low socio-economic communities with the resources and knowledge Australian students need for their digital careers.
The program provides access to specialised teacher training, including robotics and coding; funding to attend technology-focused education events; a range of IT hardware to support student projects; and the means for teachers to connect with industry mentors.
SAP and The Smith Family expect that the program will increase the participation of schools from low socio-economic areas in the popular Young ICT Explorers Competition created by SAP. Already this year 21 schools have joined the program and been able to participate in the competition and 2017 is shaping up to be a record year for participation.
“Despite an increasing awareness of the importance of STEM-related skills to our future economic prosperity, a digital skills gap remains in Australia, with young people from low-income households among those who need the greatest support,” said Dr Lisa O’Brien, CEO, The Smith Family.
She said that her charity is focused on increasing digital literacy, an essential skill students now require in both education and their careers.
“Alongside the need to boost ICT within disadvantaged communities, in a rapidly changing job market it is critical we not only inspire these students to pursue STEM-related careers, but make it accessible and fun,” said Stephen Moore, executive director, SAP Australia and New Zealand.
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has joined the program as a foundation partner this year, providing financial and mentoring support. Digital literacy is seen by the bank as a natural evolution of their long history of teaching children about money and saving.