New opportunities are available for Western Australians who are underrepresented in STEM, with the State Government’s new Digital and Technology Skills Program offering grants of up to $70,000 per year.

The grants are now open for STEM education service providers to assist them in delivering digital and technology skills education to underrepresented groups in STEM.

Underrepresented groups in STEM include women, Aboriginal people, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, people living with a disability, people from regional and remote areas, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

The tech program is an initiative under the government’s State STEM Strategy. The program aims to ensure all Western Australians have opportunities to develop the skills required to navigate the technological world, and to design and create digital solutions to modern-day challenges.

A total of $738,000 is committed to the program over four years, providing grants of between either $10,000 and $20,000 or $40,000 and $70,000 per annum for projects of up to three years.

The program provides opportunities to develop basic information and communications technology skills, such as using digital platforms and programs. It also provides for deeper skills and knowledge about concepts of data and computer science, and other skills such as coding, robotics, cybersecurity, data analytics and computational thinking.

This program adds to other government STEM initiatives, such as $17 million for science programs in up to 200 public primary schools, school science grants and making coding part of the school curriculum.

Western Australian Science Minister, Dave Kelly, said, “For Western Australians to stay competitive in this modern digital age, it is imperative that everyone is able to access digital and technology skills education.

“One of the principles of the State STEM Strategy is to ensure that no matter a person’s age, sex, race or socioeconomic status, everyone has an equal opportunity to develop STEM skills.

“This program is the first step to delivering on that principle and will be of great benefit to Western Australians currently underrepresented in STEM.

“Activities and programs run by STEM education service providers complement science initiatives in our education system, and have a significant role to play in developing every Western Australians’ digital and technology skills.”

Education service providers have until 26 March 2019 to apply.

More information, including criteria for applicants, is available here.

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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