Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Tackling the gender STEM skills gap in Australia

WHY should it be tackled?  What is wrong with having different proportions of men and women in different occupations?  Men are more likely to be good at maths so there will always be more of them in maths-heavy jobs

According to a recent report by Australia’s Chief Scientist, women comprise just 16 per cent of the total STEM workforce. Much has been written about the lack of women in science, technology, engineering and maths related roles, but why is this important? Well, it’s estimated that 75 per cent of jobs in the future will require STEM skills. If young girls aren’t taught those skills, then they’re automatically being sidelined for jobs in the future.

In the IT sector, where I’ve worked for the past 20 years, Australia has created 40,000 ICT jobs in Australia in the last two years and more broadly Australia’s Digital Pulse report says tech-intensive jobs outside the ICT industry are expected to grow at a rate of 2 per cent a year up to 2022, more than a third faster that the rate of general jobs growth. That’s another 236,700 jobs on top of an additional 81,000 ICT roles forecast for the next six years.

Of course, some great initiatives have sprung in recent years aimed at boosting female engagement in STEM education, and breaking through gender stereotypes, such as Code Like A Girl and Women in STEMM Australia, but what should companies be doing now to not only keep the few women in STEM related roles we have but encourage more to learn STEM related skills and potentially switch to STEM related roles today?

Companies need to invest in training

In 2017, It’s unrealistic to expect people to have all the skills required for one role. Instead of talking about a ‘skills crisis’, companies need to invest in training. It’s no use blaming the government for recent changes to 457 visas or looking to hire from overseas. Take a good look at the women you have in your organisation and think about how to you use them in STEM related roles. How are you cultivating your female workforce to undertake STEM roles within your organisation? What training do they need to do those roles? Would they be interested in taking on a different role to the one they have?

Then find a good partner who can deliver that training, in small, bite-sized chunks, whether via book or mobile phone and make it easily accessible anytime, anywhere.

Communicate the diversity of roles available and career opportunities

In the tech industry, we’re pretty bad at communicating the range of roles available. Just because you work in the IT sector, anyone will tell you, it doesn’t mean you have to code. There are so many important roles running IT companies, the variety really is huge and it’s not just tech companies that need tech talent. Today, in 2017, every company really is a tech company in some way, large banks, universities, private health companies — nearly every organisation uses technology to run their business and is therefore looking for people with digital skills.

Offer flexible working

Really offer flexible working and don’t just pay lip service to it. Without flexibility, it makes it extremely difficult to manage a successful career and family. Men need to be enabled and encouraged to work flexibly and take up more responsibility at home, so women can progress in the workplace.

One organisation that is helping promote this is Diverse City Careers. They conducted their own research earlier this year with 500 women working with large and small Australian businesses, government and not-for-profit organisations. The top two priorities of the women surveyed were: gender neutral parental leave policy and flexible work arrangements. Both feed into each other and deeply affect the career progression of each gender. Currently in Australia, less than 50 per cent of the non-public sector offers flexible working options.

Hire and promote more women

It sounds simple, but it just needs to happen. There is much discussion around quotas, but “you can’t be what you can’t see” and women need role models. Senior leaders need to be accountable to put more women into STEM based roles.

Women tend to not apply for roles when there are a couple of elements they haven’t got experience in, but a man will often apply for a role if there are only a couple of areas he’s confident he can deliver. Organisations need to develop programs to help promote and support women. At Skillsoft for example we’re very proud of our Women in Action™ leadership program, the industry’s first learning program specifically designed to help women across the workforce build specific competencies and immediately apply newly acquired skills.

In summary, Australia is making progress when it comes to teaching and inspiring young girls to learn STEM skills, but as an industry, we’ve got to do more. It’s down to us, as employers in STEM, to not only stop women leaving science, technology, engineering and maths related roles, but to hire more. Much much more. And to invest in training these women, to give them the skills they need to do the jobs of the future, to fuel Australia’s economy.


Some NSW Lawyers don't like the police keeping an eye on known crooks

Because a lot of them are young blacks

Australian human rights lawyers are scathing of a NSW policing program found to be disproportionately targeting young people as young as 10 along with Aboriginal youth.

A report prepared by the Youth Justice Coalition uncovered half of the total targets of a NSW Police's Suspect Target Management Program were under 25 while 44 per cent were indigenous.

The report claims the program allows police to place people, including minors and those never found guilty of an offence, on a list alongside known offenders all of whom are then targeted for intensive policing in a bid to deter future criminal activity.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights says the program punishes people based on the assumption they may one day commit a crime.
"Once placed on this list a person is subjected to intensive policing practices such as being repeatedly stopped on the street and searched and having police officers regularly visit their home to request that they present," ALHR vice president Kerry Weste said in a statement on Monday.

"Intensively policing people who have never been convicted of any offence based on secretive algorithms is inconsistent with fundamental human rights and rule of law principles such as the presumption of innocence."

ALHR also criticised the program's lack of transparency and governing legislation to hold it accountable.

"Moreover, persons subjected to the program are prevented from accessing the reasons for their inclusion or information as to how they can ever be removed from it," Ms Weste said.
The group has called on the NSW government to find a more "responsible alternative".

However a spokeswoman for NSW Police says the program is targeted at recidivist criminal offenders to prevent them from committing crimes.

"A thorough risk management framework is used to ensure the NSW Police Force is targeting the right people at the right times to reduce violence and crime in the community," NSW Police said in a statement on Monday.

"While deliberately engaged by police, STMP nominees are treated with respect and tolerance, but they are reminded that the community will not tolerate criminal behaviour."


Greenie scientists want West Australia iron ore mine banned

Some big rocks need saving?

Fifty scientists and academics have signed a letter urging the West Australian government to block an iron ore mine expansion that would affect the Helena Aurora Range.

The range and its distinct red rocks that were formed billions of years ago is a refuge for threatened flora and fauna, including two declared rare native flowering plants found nowhere else on earth, according to the letter.

The fact the Environmental Protection Authority had rejected miner Mineral Resources' proposal in June should send a clear message that the range's "natural and cultural values ... should be preserved in perpetuity and for all to enjoy", the letter said.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson received a report last Friday by WA's Appeals Convenor, who considers appeals to EPA decisions.

But it would be a whole of government decision, a spokeswoman said.

The 50 scientists and academics called on Premier Mark McGowan and Mr Dawson to adopt EPA duty chair Robert Harvey's recommendation to protect it and the letter calls for the area to be made a "class A" national park.

The Helena and Aurora Range Science Declaration was released on Monday by Emeritus Professor John Bailey, a past member of the EPA and chair of the Conservation Commission of WA.

He said the Helena Aurora Range was the most significant intact banded ironstone formation range left in the Yilgarn region, 500km northeast of Perth.

"These ranges are remnants of a landscape dating back over 2.6 billion years, meaning that they are among the most ancient landforms on Earth," the letter says.

Former premier Carmen Lawrence says the area is an incredible landscape.  "I think as a community we're only just starting to really appreciate how unique and rare places like this are," she said.

Yilgarn Iron Ore Producers Association chief David Utting rejected claims the range was unique.

"It is not a unique area. There are also not endangered species of animals and plants there that stand to be wiped out," he told ABC radio.

The previous WA Liberal National government intervened in support of Mineral Resources and ordered a review after the EPA rejected the project in 2014.


New NSW housing tied up in red tape

The NSW housing minister insists the state is experiencing record high home approvals despite claims red tape is preventing developers from building hundreds of thousands of new homes on land in Sydney.

Research from the Property Council of Australia shows only 30,000 homes were completed in the year to June 30, 2016, even though there was enough land released to provide more than 160,500 new dwellings.

Property Council NSW executive director Jane Fitzgerald blamed the five-stage process between when land is released for development and when a home is finally delivered.

"The five-stage process is like a sieve with homes leaking from the process at multiple points severely restricting the supply of housing - Sydney needs these homes and there needs to be serious effort to plug the holes our analysis has found," Ms Fitzgerald said in a statement on Monday.

"It is shocking to see how many potential new homes are being lost."

NSW Housing Minister Anthony Roberts knocked back the claims, insisting the number of new homes being delivered in greater Sydney remains at a record high.

"For 45 consecutive months NSW has experienced record housing approvals which far exceeds the premier's priority target of 50,000 approvals per year," Mr Roberts told AAP on Monday.

NSW also leads the nation in housing approvals, with nearly 69,000 new homes approved in the past 12 months, Mr Roberts said.

He insists there will always be a lag between when land is released and when dwellings are completed.

"Not all approvals lead to completions and our zonings are focused on creating great new communities with open space, community facilities and proximity to key transport," he said.

There's no suggestion the property market will slow down, with the government forecasting 184,300 new homes will be completed across Sydney in the next five years which is enough to meet market demand, Mr Roberts said.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

No comments: