Home Blog Inspiration January 2020 STEAM vs STEM: Redefining key skills for the future

STEAM vs STEM: Redefining key skills for the future

by Kate Stewart

Head of Education Partnerships

At Telstra Vantage, I was thrilled to be part of a panel adjudicating high school students from regional and remote Australia pitching technology-based solutions for problems in their community.
What struck me was that, for most of these students, finding a meaningful solution to a real-world problem wasn’t rooted in in-depth technical knowledge, but rather a creative mindset and a drive to innovate.
It’s these human skills – creativity, innovation, problem-solving and the ability to grapple with diverse ideas – that are critical to the future of work both at Telstra and across industries.

Putting the ‘A’ into STEM

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills are incredibly valuable in enabling us to solve complex problems. These skills form the basis of many of the tech roles Telstra has today.

However, in our increasingly tech-focused world we need to further consider what constitutes a well-rounded skillset. At Telstra, when we’re recruiting for a role in tech, what we look for isn’t just a technical degree or technical experience but also the right mindset. We want to delve into how a person understands customers, their approach to challenges, their resilience to failure and when things go wrong, and how they collaborate to solve complex problems. These holistic human skills can be defined as ‘Arts’ and STEM becomes STEAM.
We are living in a world with never before seen challenges and opportunities. The education sector from school to tertiary are recognising this and many are integrating and prioritising the ‘Arts’ alongside science, technology, engineering, and maths curriculums. STEAM skillsets and mindsets are increasingly critical in order to be an entrepreneur, leader, innovator or creator in the future of work and we want students to have these skills in order to thrive.
Championing learning, curiosity and exploration
When I reflect on my career, I realise that I’ve learnt by surrounding myself and observing people who are curious, creative and brave enough to question and to try something new. These people come from all walks of life with different backgrounds and career experiences. They often have a deep passion for their work and their life, are generous in sharing what they know (and don’t know!) and are open about what they’ve learnt along the way. I am grateful for their insights and impact on me.
At Telstra, we believe that everyone should have a voice and the ability to change things. Within my team, we all have different specialisations and backgrounds, and the way we work is by dissecting problems and iterating solutions together. Those key human skills like curiosity, creativity and collaboration are what allow us to tackle some of our most complex challenges.
In our Telstra Graduate Program, we work with students and graduates to provide holistic training, hands-on experience and mentoring that assists them to transition from campus and to thrive at work. With this approach, we will equip people with those critical STEAM skills and mindsets that they can carry with them throughout their careers and help ensure they are prepared for the future of work.
Are you interested in or know someone who should apply for our Telstra Graduate Program? Applications open in March.
You can find out about our other student and graduate programs here.
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