The STEM+T program is an initiative from A Human Agency. It brings construction firms and schools together, with the aim to close the gender gap in STEM and Trade careers. In Australia, construction is the most male dominated industry, with females making up only 12 percent of the workforce*. Women must be encouraged to join this field, not only to provide gender balance, but to boost the industry’s dwindling numbers of skilled workers.
“The lack of female participation in the construction industry can be attributed to negative mind-sets and perceptions of the industry workplace. There is also a lack of awareness amongst high school students about current and future opportunities,” says Katriina Tahka, Co-CEO of HR Consultancy A Human Agency (A-HA).
To help increase the amount of female talent coming through the pipeline, A-HA initiated round-table discussions with industry representatives before designing a strategic blueprint for change.
The resulting STEM+T program is an initiative that takes high school teachers out of the classroom and onto the worksite. By giving teachers ‘a day in the life’ experience of a junior engineer, project manager or tradesperson, it enables them to inspire students, getting them excited about STEM careers.
The initiative’s pilot program brought together Sydney based Girls’ School, Roseville College with leading construction firm, BORAL, and Downer, a leading provider of integrated services. Teachers who spent a day on the job returned with deeper industry knowledge and an improved understanding of how to encourage girls to get excited about STEM-based careers.
“It is time to re-imagine how schools and academics approach encouraging girls to consider career paths in trades, engineering, construction and infrastructure,” says Abi Woldhuis, Head of Professional Growth at Roseville.
“Teachers who are interested and willing to participate will gain the resources and responsibility to coach, guide and advocate for meaningful STEM+T programs”.
Steve Schofield, Group Head of Human Resources and Industrial Relations at Downer, says: “Downer is committed to attracting and developing diverse talent. We are pleased to have the opportunity to break down barriers and shift the perception of women in STEM careers.”
Boral has an equal commitment to addressing the gender gap driven by negative stereotypes. “The pilot program with Abi Woldhuis and the Roseville College teachers was a great success and has set the framework to further develop similar programs for engaging students with STEM-based careers” says David Bolton, General Manager of Quarries and Recycling for Boral NSW / ACT.
After the success of the pilot, A-HA is now on track to roll out the program across STEM-related businesses and schools across the country.
“We are getting ready to build the pipeline of talent on a much larger scale,” says Katriina Tahka. “Construction and other STEM industries are where employment opportunities lie, and our goal is to evolve their reputations. This will guide young Australians towards dynamic and fulfilling careers.”
Contact: To speak to A Human Agency’s co-CEO Katriina Tahka, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 9042 1406