ASX listed logistics company WiseTech worldwide has committed 1% of its annual pre-tax profits to technical education through Grok Academy as part of a five-year contract.
The deal, which kicks off with an FY22 contribution of more than $2.5 million, will see K-12 students hone their digital skills in the hopes the experience will encourage more of them to pursue IT careers. WiseTech supports all of Grok Academy’s outreach programs. including the annual National Computer Science School Challenge.
The money will initially be used to make the Grok Academy online platform and teaching materials available to Australian students, educators and parents free of charge, alongside plans to develop new digital technology and literacy learning resources.
WiseTech Global CEO and Founder Richard White said it was a fantastic opportunity to help students learn valuable skills and understand the potential of a career in technology.
“Australia must build a strong pipeline of talented people to shape our technological future or we will lose this opportunity. Accessible education for all Australian students who start early and create curiosity and agile minds that make the world a better place through technology will be a powerful engine for the long-term economy and a long-term solution to the current technology skills shortage,” he said. .
“By taking an in-depth, foundational approach, we aim to ensure that all students, regardless of gender, economic circumstances or geography, have a positive technology experience at an early age, inspiring more students to embark on further technology studies and careers. We are passionate about this and we are taking positive action by partnering with Grok Academy.”
With an additional 653,000 tech workers predicted to be needed in Australia by the end of the decade, White said early exposure to digital technology skills is critical.
“We know that what students experience in elementary school and early high school has a big influence on what they study later in high school,” he said.
It is also the time to dispel social myths about what is appropriate for girls to study, so that they do not choose technical subjects for themselves.”
The WiseTech chief added that while more girls than boys study tertiary, 73% of students studying in the STEM field are male.
“Ultimately, this means Australian companies are missing out on much of the potential talent pool of locally grown tech professionals,” White said.
“The technology sector, which includes technical jobs in a wide variety of industries, offers great career opportunities. Not only does it provide greater job security, flexibility and diversity, it also empowers people to think creatively to solve real-world problems and create a significant part of the future.”
Grok Academy CEO James Curran said teachers are being asked to teach skills that many have not learned in their own training.
“Our aim is to help teachers by offering a range of classroom online courses, competitions and activities all aligned with the Australian curriculum: digital technologies,” he said.
“Our programs are designed to guide students in developing practical computational thinking skills and are developed by qualified classroom teachers with hands-on experience of the challenges many teachers face today.”
Curran said WiseTech’s donation removes the cost barrier to Grok programs so that more children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds can access them
“While we are proud that approximately 25,000 students and teachers participate in Grok’s National Computer Science School Challenge each year, this is only a small fraction of Australia’s total of 4 million primary and secondary students. We can do more,” he says.
“It’s a fantastic initiative and we hope many more schools and educators across the country can use these tools to help their students consider IT careers.”
Federal Industry and Science Ed Husic Grok Academy is a true Australian success story and welcomed the WiseTech investment.
“It is vital that Australia has the skills for the jobs of the future. I can’t think of a better way to get this going than for all the school kids having free access to one of the best online coding classrooms out there,” he said.
“The Albanian government wants Australia to reach 1.2 million tech jobs by 2030. To achieve that goal, we need lots of young Australians on board from a young age to build those skills and see the creative side they can bring.