The Wanago Program is delivering NSW STEM electives for high-school students at UTS to address national STEM workforce gaps.
Forging the future today
Smart phones. DNA testing. New cancer cures. Renewable energy. With each year, another extraordinary advance in technology or science further transforms our lives, society and workforce.
In this rapidly-changing global economy, Australia is finding itself without the skills to keep up. According to PWC’s report entitled A Smart Move: Future-proofing Australia’s workforce, in the next decade, 75% of all jobs will need science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, but only 16% of our high school students are currently pursuing degrees in these disciplines. Of those that do, young women are alarmingly underrepresented.
UTS is looking to the future, with a plan to create the technologically-skilled workforce that Australia urgently needs.
The Wanago Program is a key plank in UTS’s holistic response to the gaps in Australia’s science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education. This education is crucial for the digitally-fluent, multidisciplinary careers of the future – the software developers, solar technicians, biotech engineers, data analysts and thousands more.
Yet Australian high schools often don’t have the teaching capabilities or resources to engage students in STEM subjects – or to run these subjects at all. So students are missing out on their first stepping stone to the next generation of jobs.
More than a stepping stone, The Wanago Program is a unique new pathway that connects high school students, and their teachers and parents, with higher education and future industries. It combines the delivery of Australian curriculum electives in university-like settings, alongside initiatives to inspire students, mentor teachers and raise awareness in parents.
The Wanago Program outline
Commencing in February 2019, the current three pilot programs are a collaboration between UTS, the NSW Department of Education, several Independent and Catholic schools in and around the Sydney CBD. The collaborations include a:
- 1 year, Stage 5 (Yr. 9/10), iSTEM class consisting of 33 students from Sydney Secondary College (SSC), Balmain Campus
- 1 year, Stage 6 (Yr. 12), Design and Technology class of 25 students from SSC, Blackwattle Bay Campus
- 2 year, Stage 6 (Yr. 11/12), Engineering Studies class of 21 students from 4 Independent and 1 Catholic School
Other aims of current and future programs
- Achieve 50% gender diversity.
- Improve access for students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
- Build teacher capacity through engagements with UTS academics and industry experts.
- Increase learning outcomes through the development of curriculum enrichment activities and projects (facilitated by UTS academics).
- Develop student readiness to university.
- Raising student, parent and community awareness on the ‘future of work’, Australia’s STEM challenges and opportunities
- Advocate for STEM education through data collection and building impact evaluation.
- Facilitating pathways for students with foundational academic and advanced technology proficiency back to UTS (or other universities).