Funding boost for women in STEM

Flinders University’s Diploma of Digital Technologies is expanding with a further 120 places for women to gain practical high-tech digital skills.

The latest $3.4 million commitment from the Commonwealth Government is in line with the demand for digital upskilling around Australia and follows the first round of funding for women in STEM in 2021.

“This successful course has already benefited workers around Australia from a range of industries, from advanced manufacturing, defense and space to wine, government, small-to-medium businesses – and STEM teachers who will encourage more students into engineering and other fields – and is helping to raise equity and new opportunities for women in STEM careers,” Program Director, Flinders University Professor of Innovation Giselle Rampersad said.

“Our award-winning Diploma of Digital Technologies, supported by the federally funded Women in STEM Cadetships and Advanced Apprenticeship Program, will now add to the success of the first round of funding, and build on the 150 women currently gaining skills through the program, ” said Professor Rampersad, who is also co-director of the Flinders Center for Defense Engineering Research and Training, based at the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide.

The Megatrends Report (2022) has predicted that the nation will need an estimated 6.5 million more digital workers by 2025 – an increase of 79 percent from 2020 – to keep up with technological change. The Government’s target of creating 1.2 million tech-related jobs by 2030 was discussed at the recent Jobs and Skills Summit.

The Flinders University diploma course offers online and intensive workshops in topics covering cybersecurity, 3D printing, robotics and autonomous technologies, IoT and sensor-based systems, electronics, design and CAD, innovation and Industry 4.0.

It has expanded nationally and regionally providing professional development opportunities to women across 100 organizations, in every State and Territory in Australia. This includes at least 50 women in defense, manufacturing and space industries, 50 women in the wine and grape sectors, and 50 STEM teachers.

Professor Rampersad says the program is “proving the outcomes of the collaboration can be replicated across a range of industries and can be further expanded and scaled to others, including renewables and medical technologies.

“Indeed, the program is significant in promoting and elevating equity and access across the higher education sector nationally.

“There is outstanding innovation happening, which is an exemplary model for developing a future enabled workforce in collaboration with industry, for economic development and job growth for our young people.”

The program started in 2020 with industry partner BAE Systems and 300 workers have now undertaken the Flinders University Diploma of Digital Technologies – including 51 shipbuilders upskilling for the $35 billion Hunter Class Frigate Program and personnel from around 150 organizations around Australia.

The Flinders University program met another milestone this year with 70 interstate female participants, with several Queensland participants from Boeing Defense involved in aerospace manufacturing, Lockheed Martin in NSW and SA, small-medium sized enterprises, Nova Systems as well as BAE sites around Australia.

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