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24 June 2019 Speech

Check against delivery

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land that we are on today, and pay my respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Good morning everyone.

Thank you all for being here today, especially our distinguished guests and the Minister for Tertiary Skills and Education, the Honourable Dr Geoff Lee.

I'm the Chief Executive of Australia's national science agency, the CSIRO, but today I'm here as the Trustee of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund, or SIEF which was created in 1926, but was reinvigorated with a Gift from CSIRO from proceeds of CSIRO's invention of WiFi; SIEF invests in the science of today to invent our industries of tomorrow.

So I'm overjoyed to be accepting a 10-year, $25 Million endowment from the NSW State Government to grow our STEM workforce of the future through a program called Generation STEM.

Generation STEM will attract, support, train and retain NSW students into STEM careers, and I'm delighted to be joined by Minister Lee who has the checkbook :).

In Australia we must embrace STEM to reinvent our future - to solve seemingly impossible problems and by doing so create new industries, new jobs, and new economic value to create a sustainable future for generations yet to come.

Here in Western Sydney, for example, there is a growing need for a STEM-skilled workforce with the development of the Aerotropolis (including the Western Sydney Airport).

For the first time, residents here will be able to train in specialisations that their parents and grandparents would have had to leave home to pursue – and they'll be able to work in industries, and even create new ones, right around the corner from home.

This is reflected in the scenarios CSIRO mapped in the Australian National Outlook 2019, released last week.

STEM careers can open all of these doors.

The Generation STEM initiative focuses on increasing the diversity of students entering STEM pathways, maintaining their interest and engagement at school, into higher education and then into employment in NSW.

When we talk about diversity, we mean it in the broadest possible sense of the word, because diversity is the compass to navigate the innovation age.

STEM careers are not just for scientists in the making.

STEM opens pathways for students of all backgrounds, identities, capabilities, interests and passions.

STEM arms our children with power to face technological disruption without fear of change, in fact to hunger for change as an opportunity in disguise.

As Minister Lee will discuss, a crucial part of this program will be exposing students to an array of STEM career opportunities in their own backyard or at their corner store – it's no longer about being a person in a white lab coat in some ivory tower far away in the city, although of course you can still do the white coat if you want to!

Diversity drives innovation; so it is crucial we enable diversity of students and ideas now as well as moving forward into the future.

I would like to especially thank the NSW Government for its visionary action – investing in our children, the next generation of STEM professionals who will deliver a better future for all Australians.

With the right people and talent, science can make the impossible possible.


To learn more see – The official launch of Generation STEM

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