BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA — SAP Australia and children’s education charity The Smith Family have announced an intensified partnership which aims to narrow the digital divide by supporting disadvantaged students to participate in an innovative digital challenge.
The Smith Family and SAP Australia combine to narrow the digital skills gap, tackling youth unemployment and bridging the digital divide
Young ICT Explorers is one of Australia’s leading digital challenges, aiming to foster life-long digital literacy skills in school-aged children. Students in years 3 to 12 across Australia are invited to develop and showcase their best ICT-related project to peers, academics and industry leaders in a creative forum.
In today’s world, digital literacy is fundamental to educational success, however not all children have equal access to the right technologies, training and support to do well at school.
Research shows that only 68 per cent of children aged 5 to 14 in Australia’s most disadvantaged communities have access to the Internet at home, compared with 91 per cent of students from the most advantaged communities.
2014 National Assessment Program ICT literacy data shows around 7 in 10 students from high socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds attained or exceeded the proficiency standard, while only 4 in 10 students from low SES backgrounds reached the set standard.
To narrow the digital divide, the partnership between the two organisations will see The Smith Family help to facilitate and support its partner schools across Australia to participate in SAP’s Young ICT Explorers, with the goal to increase representation of low SES schools to 50 per cent by 2020.
“There is a digital skills gap in Australia, and that gap matters,” said Max Roberts, State Manager for Queensland and Northern Territory at SAP Australia. “Australian industry will require another 100,000 ICT workers if we are to meet the transformational demands of the digital economy and stay competitive.
“At the same time, Australia faces a looming youth unemployment crisis, particularly in disadvantaged communities. We – industry, government, not-for-profits and educators – need to reach out and engage early, often and meaningfully to inspire young Australians – not for the jobs of today, but for the digital careers of tomorrow. Through our deeper relationship with The Smith Family, we feel we can equip thousands of at-risk youth with the digital skills they need to succeed in our new economy.”
Speaking at the launch of the initiative, Queensland’s Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch said: “I am passionate about digital inclusion because it is important that all of our young people can be part of the knowledge economy in the future. SAP’s partnership with The Smith Family will ensure the Young ICT Explorers challenge reaches even more disadvantaged communities throughout Queensland and Australia.”
The Smith Family’s CEO, Dr Lisa O’Brien, said: “It’s vital that disadvantaged students are supported to access the technology and training they need to fully participate in their education, and build the skills they need to successfully attain employment in an increasingly STEM focused workforce.
“Our intensified partnership with SAP Australia works towards narrowing the digital divide for the sake of future generations of disadvantaged students.
“Our role as official charity partner for Young ICT Explorers demonstrates our unified commitment to give disadvantaged students the opportunity to strengthen their digital skills, improve their educational outcomes and create better futures for themselves.”
This year, Young ICT Explorers has grown from 800 to 1,600 student participants, with a record number of schools and projects registered. Forum events were held in eight locations across Australia with the upcoming national final forum bringing together state winners to be held in Sydney on 26 November 2016.
The partnership will also establish a framework for additional organisations to support Young ICT Explorers and enable many more young people to participate in this exciting initiative by 2020. Additionally, there is the opportunity to invite more employees of corporates to mentor young Australians and support them as they create their technology projects for Young ICT Explorers.
Additional Young ICT Explorers supporters include foundation partner Digital Careers, as well as sponsors Discovery Networks, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), Symantec, CompTIA, Fujitsu and Soltius.
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 more than 320,000 business and public sector customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit www.sap.com.
About The Smith Family
The Smith Family is a national, independent children’s charity helping disadvantaged Australians to get the most out of their education, so they can create better futures for themselves. For more information, visit www.thesmithfamily.com.au.
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