SAP Expands Young ICT Explorers as Australia and New Zealand’s Demand for Innovation Grows

Industry rallies behind the Young ICT Explorers program to help create the workforces critical to economic success in the digital age

SydneyTo inspire, encourage and support children to create and innovate with technology, SAP today announced the continued growth of its flagship youth innovation program Young ICT Explorers across Australia and New Zealand.

In 2016, the competition is expanding to seven states and territories in Australia, with South Australia added to the program. Additionally, for the first time in the competition’s seven-year history Young ICT Explorers is heading to New Zealand, with Auckland set to host a local event.

In total, nine Young ICT Explorer competitions will be held across New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and New Zealand.

SAP will host the Australian-based competitions with longstanding partner Digital Careers, whose own mission is to create future innovators, promote a greater understanding of the real life applications of technology and the career paths it enables.

Demonstrating the increasing industry focus and commitment to improving ICT skills among Australia’s and New Zealand’s youth – coupled with a national focus on boosting innovation in both countries – the number of organisations supporting the program has also grown. Joining SAP and Digital Careers for this year’s competition will be the Discovery Channel, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), Symantec, CompTIA, Fujitsu and Soltius.

This year’s program builds on the success of 2015’s competition, which saw a record number 874 students present 371 projects.

Speaking about the expansion of Young ICT Explorers, John Ruthven, President and Managing Director, SAP Australia and New Zealand, hopes it will address the glaring paradox between youth unemployment and the digital skills shortage.

“It’s rare two problems can become each other’s solution, but bridging the ICT skills gap is an effective way to resolving youth unemployment and equipping organisations with the digital-ready workforces they need to be competitive today and into the future. While great gains have been made in rallying interest in boosting STEM skills, there is still much work to do. Finding the right talent, for example, is one of the greatest barriers in the region to global competitiveness.

“Through Young ICT Explorers in 2016, SAP is calling on industry, government and academia to join forces and drive the required change. Developing ICT skills is not the responsibility of a single organisation, but of businesses of all industries and sizes,” Ruthven added.

Dr. Karsten Schulz, National Director of Digital Careers and Young ICT Explorers head judge, added: “To create economies built on entrepreneurism and success, we need to build a nation of innovators and foster an environment where our best talent remains on Australian shores. By shining the spotlight on our countries’ digital futures – through programs like Young ICT Explorers – we will encourage more students to consider digital technologies as a future career path, which is essential as we increasingly live in a digital world. We are encouraged to see new sponsors join and support this important program in 2016 and if the last seven years are anything to go by, we can’t wait to see what the students create this year.”

An organisation behind the program for the first time is Discovery Networks. Mandy Pattinson, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Australia, NZ & The Pacific Islands, commented: “Across our broad network of channels, Discovery inspires people to ask questions and is dedicated to satisfying curiosity. Our most recent example of this is the launch of Discovery Kids, Australia’s only television channel committed in its entirety to educational programming for primary school aged children and aligned to the national curriculum. We’re delighted to partner with Young ICT Explorers – a great example of a platform inspiring interest in technology and the opportunities it presents for the youth of Australia. We are proud to be a part of this year’s program, instilling confidence in tomorrow’s innovators and entrepreneurs.”

This year’s entrants will be hoping to emulate the successful innovations and projects of previous winners, including National Winners (Years 7-8), Maya Braun and Max Meyer, from Sydney International Grammar School. Maya and Max programmed a solar-powered watering system for plants – paving the way for coding advancements in the not so distant future.

“Taking part in Young ICT Explorers was great because we got to create our own unique project designed to solve a problem we’d identified around our homes, which was forgetting to water the plants. Being part of the competition was fun and interesting, and we really enjoyed learning from and speaking with other students about their projects. We were hugely excited to win for Plants vs Zombies, and are looking forward to seeing where these skills take us in the future,” said Maya Braun.

The SAP Young ICT Explorers competition runs in partnership with leading universities including University of Queensland, University of New South Wales, Deakin, The University of Tasmania, Edith Cowan University, James Cook University and the Australian National University. The projects will be judged by industry professionals and academics. Each project is assessed on the criteria of creativity, uniqueness, quality, level of difficulty and project documentation.

Registrations are now open and available online at http://www.youngictexplorers.net.au/ for teachers and parents to register students from years 3 to 12 for venues across the country.

Competition dates and locations as follows:

Deakin University, Melbourne 6 August 2016
University of NSW, Sydney 13 August 2016
James Cook University, Townsville 20 August 2016
University of Tasmania Hobart 20 August 2016
The University of Queensland, Brisbane 27 August 2016
Edith Cowan University, Perth 3 September 2016
Australian National University, Canberra 10 September 2016
University of South Australia, Adelaide 24 September 2016
Manukau Institute of Technology, New Zealand 8 October 2016

For more information on the program and to hear from students involved in the program, please see:

About Young ICT Explorers
Young ICT Explorers is a schools based competition set up by SAP in Queensland in 2010, Launching in New South Wales in 2012, further expanding to Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and Townsville in 2014. 2015 saw the competition launching in West Australia and Tasmania for the first time and 2016 will see it expand to South Australia and New Zealand. School students are asked to enter ICT related projects in any field of study or topic of interest. The competition helps nurture, grow and encourage young minds to take up the challenge of Information Communication technology.

The competition piloted in 2010 in partnership with the University of Queensland to challenge the widespread perception by students and their parents that ICT careers are dull and limiting. This followed concerns from past survey of the state of ICT education by the University of Wollongong which revealed that application for tertiary studies in ICT have declined around 55% Australia wide over the past 10 years.

For more information, visit the Young ICT Explorers website:

About SAP
As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable approximately 300,000 customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit www.sap.com.

About Digital Careers

Digital Careers is an Australian government backed, independent program aimed at positively engaging students, parents and teachers in digital technology. We want these groups to consider and support careers in digital technology in order to future-proof Australia’s workforce. Digital Careers develops and delivers fun, experiential activities for years 3-12 students that create positive engagement with digital technology. We also enable teachers to deliver attractive technology curricula, through training courses, webinars and conferences. Funding is provided through the Australian Government, Data 61, tertiary institutions, industry bodies and state governments.

For more information, press only:
Holly Ledlin, +61 433 400 391, sap@howorth.com.au

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