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Monday, 2 May 2016
Page: 4081


Mrs McNAMARA (Dobell) (10:34): Recently the Assistant Minister for Innovation, the Hon. Wyatt Roy, visited Dobell, where the agenda of innovation was well and truly on the table. During the assistant minister's visit I was able to showcase The Entrance Public School, one of the local Dobell schools, which is moving forward in leaps and bounds in regard to STEM education opportunities. Our visit to The Entrance Public School showcased their STEM program. We witnessed firsthand students learning the background and the art of coding and interacting with new technology. It is extraordinary to think that the jobs most of these young people will build their career on have not been invented yet. The Entrance Public School's STEM program provides a creative and innovative environment for student learning. By employing a STEM teacher to deliver robotics, coding, app development and makerspace, an environment is produced where students can create, invent, learn and share their ideas. In particular, to promote the girls' interest in STEM, a girls mentoring program in the areas of science and technology has been introduced. To date, 100 per cent of students are coding and engaged in the robotics program. In addition, Aboriginal students have shown a significant improvement in literacy and numeracy in 2015 NAPLAN results.

The introduction of STEM programs throughout our schools is just the first step in providing the basis for education and employment opportunities in the future. Recently the Central Coast Express Advocate reported that the construction, retail and health sectors are driving employment growth on the Central Coast, with employment growth in the region increasing by 19.7 per cent over the past 12 months. With the increase in technology, it is likely that we will see further growth in areas that relate directly to innovation and the STEM line of education. The need to embrace the concept of innovation is one that has been wholeheartedly accepted on the Central Coast, no more so than through the annual innovation summit, held locally every year. This year's theme is 'Get Comfortable with being Uncomfortable.'

It is imperative to be aware that jobs of today may not exist tomorrow and the businesses of today need to transform to survive. This has been evident already in the way that robotics has transformed the manufacturing industry and how environmental ecologists are looking at transforming traditional waste management towards better processes. What we are doing in business today will require reform and innovation to adapt to the needs of an evolving business environment. This is also relevant in regard to the personal situation of innovation and change and how we as a society and as individuals need to embrace what the future holds. Dobell is known for many things—the great beaches, the wonderful lakes and the beautiful green valleys. In the future I am sure it will be known for its new and innovative businesses and the way in which schools and businesses have embraced STEM programs.