With reports showing a national shortage of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills among school leavers[i] there is concern being voiced for the future of scientific discovery and innovation. This was the topic at the launch of Bayer’s ‘Science For A Better Life’ exhibition at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney this week.
To mark the company’s 150th anniversary, Bayer kicked off the interactive exhibition with thought provoking speeches from Australian CSIRO scientist Dr Jim Peacock and Dr Jacqueline Applegate, CEO Bayer Australia and New Zealand, who stated that having a foundation in STEM related skills is key to not only pursuing a career in science but to opening doors in other disciplines.
Dr Applegate said: “At Bayer, we believe it is our responsibility to inspire young minds to have a passion and a curiosity for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A sound foundation and understanding of any one of these disciplines opens a world of vocational opportunities and, ultimately, will allow future generations to change the world for a better place.”
The Science For A Better Life exhibition showcases scientific innovations from the last 150 years, and highlights the importance of science education in schools. Bayer is dedicated to highlighting this issue by igniting curiosity and inventiveness in today’s youth, with the exhibition a perfect example. This is crucial given there is considerable evidence indicating that as students get older, their attitudes and commitment to STEM decrease significantly.1 which is of concern when approximately 75% of the fastest growing occupations require STEM skills and knowledge.[ii]
The company recognises the importance of STEM given that the global population is predicted to grow from seven to nine billion by 2050, while life expectancy is set to continue increasing and impacting the demand for healthcare.[iii] At the same time, the climate is changing and more agricultural land is being used for energy production.3 Bayer takes its responsibility very seriously and recognises it needs to tackle these mega-trends head-on by delivering innovative healthcare products and new technologies to increase food production and resource efficiency. The leaders of the company believe that only through innovation can these global mega-trends be truly addressed.
Renowned Australian CSIRO scientist Dr Jim Peacock and former Chief Scientist of Australia went on to add: “Bayer has worked closely with CSIRO over the years to help our school children understand the possible ways in which climate change, among other things, can affect our lives. This exhibition is just the latest example of how Bayer strives to educate today’s children about the industry and its sheer scope.”
A survey of employers by the Australian Industry Group say their biggest barrier to recruitment was a lack of applicants with STEM skills which are critical for Australia’s national productivity and global competitiveness.[iv]
Bayer’s ‘Science For A Better Life’ Exhibition has been touring the world in 2013 – touching down in 30 cities worldwide including London, Berlin, Mexico City and Shanghai. The interactive exhibition will be on display at the Hordern Pavilion and open to the public on Wednesday, November 13th and Thursday, November 14th from 5:00pm to 9:00pm.
[i] STEM: Country Comparisons. Report by the Australian Council of Learned Academics for PMSEIC, June 2013, p.1.
[ii] Becker, K. And Park K,; Effects of integrative approaches among STEM subjects on students’ learning, Journal of STEM Education 12 July – September 2011.
[iii]Hajkowicz SA, Cook H, Littleboy A. 2012. Our Future World: Global megatrends that will change the way we live. The 2012 Revision. CSIRO, Australia.
[iv] Australian Industry Group. Lifting our Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Skills. March 2013