Australia’s digital imperative starts with our youth

| September 14, 2016
Young ICT Explorers John Ruthven blog

Australia’s best technology ideas come from those who aren’t familiar with restrictions: our youth. That’s the essence of Young ICT Explorers, a non-profit competition created by SAP. John Ruthven, President and Managing Director of SAP Australia and New Zealand, explains.

Last weekend, a team of year-three students from Canberra Girls Grammar School dutifully set up a booth with photos of Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, crisp printouts of project documentation, a few plush rainforest animals and the star attraction: A Lego robot studded with sensors and tank treads.

The robot was designed to recover orphaned orangutans who had lost their parents through poaching or habitat destruction. With its sensors and a motorized claw, the vehicle would guide the orangutans to the rehabilitation centre, clearing bush where needed and stand by the young primate until centre staff arrived to attend to it.

As the crew from Canberra Girls rehearsed their pitch, more than 150 other young digital enthusiasts from years 3 to 12 filed into Australian National University to showcase their technology projects, ranging from games programmed with Scratch and Wix Web sites to highly sophisticated Internet of Things and virtual reality applications.

Young ICT Explorers John Ruthven blog

This is Young ICT Explorers

Australia’s best technology ideas come from those who aren’t familiar with restrictions: our youth. This is the essence of Young ICT Explorers, a not-for-profit technology competition running across eight locations throughout Australia that encourages young students to engage with digital technologies. The event is free and the criteria are light, which keeps the barriers to entry low and results in an incredibly diverse array of projects.

This year, through an unprecedented level of industry support from organisations – such as Discovery Networks, Digital Careers, CompTia, the AIIA, Symantec, CompTIA, Fujitsu, Soltius and a score of University champions – the program has grown two-fold in a year, with more than 1,600 young Australians participating. As the 2016 season winds down, the calibre of projects we have seen easily eclipses that from any year prior.

By engaging and inspiring our kids to “make the games and not just play them,” we’re ensuring Australia has the talent bench strength to tackle inescapable trends like supercomputing, cybersecurity and the next industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) – trends that will roll us if we’re not prepared in this hypercompetitive, global and digital economy. More importantly, it ensures our future has meaningful and rewarding career paths and evades the spectre of growing youth unemployment.

At its simplest Young ICT Explorers instils the confidence young Australians need to explore digital education and career pathways further – in a fun, friendly, safe, practical and entrepreneurial setting.

We’re all in this, some of us just don’t know it yet

Kids get it; it’s us grown-ups who need to get on board. There’s plenty of rhetoric on STEM, but what is needed is increased action to scale programs like Young ICT Explorers so that they become as embedded in Australia’s youth experience as cricket, netball or rugby.

The digital imperative is the youth imperative. And the responsibility for this imperative can’t be mastered by any single organisation. Young ICT Explorers is an open, brand-neutral, not-for-profit challenge and an ideal platform on which industries (not just the ICT industry), government, education and the not-for-profit sector can align and act to bring about real, measurable progress for a bright digital future.

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  1. rltuition

    September 21, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Technical youth

    Today as technology is advancing day by day, syllabus of studies must be changed according to that so that youth should remain updated not only practically but theory part too must be covered, as theory make our base strong. Go for technology which is helpful and affordable for all. Thanks