The teaching of STEM subjects should be made compulsory in Australian schools, says Elizabeth Vega, founder and CEO of Informed Solutions and National Board Director at the Australian Information Industry Association.

Vega, who has an impressive track record in the secor, having led and advised on complex change, digital transformation and enterprise IT programmes, addressed the summit in a speech in which she also called for more optimism around the debate on how technology is likely to shape the workforce of the future.

In 1992, Vega founded Informed Solutions in the UK, setting the company up to become a primary provider of digital transformation, technology, advanced data analytics and systems integration services. She has since expanded the firm into a market leader with offices in the UK and Australia.

Speaking to Telecom Times on the sidelines of the AIIA ‘Navigating technology and the jobs of the future’ summit in Canberra, Vega noted how similar STEM initiatives in the UK currently being developed seemed to include more emphasis on fostering students’ creativity as well as their analytical prowess.

She said a much greater level of collaboration between education, industry and research and innovation was needed to seriously move along the implementation of a STEM-focused education strategy.

Vega also said that essentially a shift in mindset was required, with stakeholders at last realising that something greater than each individual party’s interest had become the imperative driver. She said we had been provided with a unique opportunity to use the power of machines to improve human lives, boost productivity, and create jobs that are more rewarding and fulfilling for people, “and probably better paid”.

“Are we really on the brink of a dystopian, jobless future?” Vega put to the industry audience. “I want to look forward and present a more empowering and optimistic future, particularly if we collaborate on up-skilling our workforce and building new capability.”

In addition, Vega said we could find ourselves in a position where we could make space for more leisure time – if we wanted to – and “create, in the process, a global economic success story for our nation.”