STEM strategy needed, says nation’s chief scientist

The nation’s chief scientist Ian Chubb has released a report calling
for a national plan on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with
Australia singled out as the only OECD nation not having a STEM strategy.

Chubb’s report, Science, Technology, Engineering and
Mathematics: Australia’s Future
, covers the four areas of building
competitiveness, supporting education and training, maximising research
potential and strengthening international engagement. 

The 37-page report is the
result of 18 months’ worth of development and consultation.

The
approach recommended began in classrooms all the way to the business world
(with Australia’s level of collaboration between researchers and business cited
as particularly dismal).

“If we’ve got young people coming through the
system who are interested in science, fascinated by science and understand how
awesome science can be, then we’ll be better off for it,” the ABC reports him as saying.

Better
support for teachers and a dedicated science and maths specialist in each
primary school were recommended.

At
the business level, Chubb recommended an Australian Innovation Board to
concentrate on cooperation between researchers and companies and based on the
UK example.

This would “draw together existing Australian
programs and set targets for research and innovation effort” reports Fairfax.

Chubb has been the Australia’s chief scientist since 2011, and last
month also singled out the country’s failure – unique among OECD nations – to
develop an innovation strategy or technology/science strategy, as well as poor rankings in developing patents and academic citations.

The Australian reports that industry minister Ian Macfarlane said there
wouldn’t be a formal response to the report, but he was not “poles apart” from
the findings and the government would release initiatives in coming weeks to “reinforce”
some of what was recommended.

Image: News Corp