I am thrilled to be the inaugural Patron of LABNETWEST; it is an honour and a privilege. During my tenure as Western Australia’s Chief Scientist from 2006-2013, I had the opportunity to visit many schools and saw the vital role that Science Technicians play in the education of our young people.
Back in 2006, we had hardly heard the acronym STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) but now I am delighted to say that it is familiar to almost all Australians and people around the world. The STEM subjects are vital to our future and that of planet Earth. The subjects underpin such crucial themes as sustainable energy sources, food and water security, health for humankind and for the environment, safe transport and the search for new knowledge. Moreover, the STEM subjects are essential for the jobs of the future with an estimated 75% of new jobs in the next decade needing these skills.
We need the best possible school experience for our young people to encourage them to become the scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians of the future. More widely, we need a community that understands science to allow good decision-making around key issues such as renewable energy, genetically modified foods and vaccination. I am convinced that to truly gain the most from STEM school education, students must have practical experience and the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities.
School Science Technicians play a key role in providing the best support for hands-on laboratory experience and field-based studies. I have personally witnessed the positive influence that School Science Technicians play in this regard. LABNETWEST provides a professional platform to support the sharing and implementation of science knowledge and practical activities in schools in Western Australia. I commend you all for the contribution you make to the next generation of young Australians and wish you continued success in the future.