Developing the Future - ACS Foundation
Everyday we hear about new solutions to worldwide problems being announced. It might be a new drug to treat Alzheimer's Disease, a voyage to the deepest parts of the ocean or even to Mars. New ideas come together to create new opportunities such as AI or Gene Therapy.
Underlying these advancements and achievements has been the incredible developments worldwide in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
But where does it all start?
The answer is simple; it is with the education of our children. Education gives us an opportunity to create a better tomorrow for everyone.
What can we do?
Around 2000 a group of people saw a looming problem. Australia, like other developed nations, was seeing a decline in students entering into the STEM disciplines in our colleges and universities. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a core component of all the STEM disciplines. But there was a 60% reduction in ICT enrollments in Universities and TAFE. Part of the problem was the "Dot-com bubble" burst in 2000 and part was the lack of understanding of ICT.
In 2001 the ACS Foundation was created
The Foundation was established by the Australian Computer Society and corporate donors in 2001. The ACS Foundation is an ACNC registered charitable organisation with a charter to Advance Information and Communication Technology through education and research.
The ACS Foundation runs student developmental programs that are in response to the technology industry needs. By listening to governments, industry associations, technology companies, education institutions and sponsors in general, we formulate, invest and run programs for the long term benefit of Australia. The foundation focuses on building awareness and understanding of the importance of an ICT education to provide the technologists 'brains trust' needed for today and the future.
What does the Foundation do?
The ACS Foundation's four targeted programs that deliver to the core principals and objectives.
At the ACS Foundations core are Work Integrated Learning (WIL) scholarships. These are available for university students. As determined by our donors, the foundation administers scholarships to the students. Scholarships are financial grants take the form of both academic and demographic grants and 'work integrated learning' (WIL) placements. Students must apply and be assessed against the criteria that is determined for each scholarship. The foundation has partnered with over 175 companies who have sponsored scholarships and over 30 Australian universities and TAFEs.
Foundation Jobs creates a pathway for new ICT professionals, and matches individuals with employers. The program is much like an internship and can lead to full time employment. Employment arrangements are provided for entry-level technology jobs for a limited time.
The Big Day In is targeted at primary and high school students to provide information about ICT careers and opportunities. Experienced and passionate industry speakers provide real world input. Industry workshops, sponsors and exhibitors provide a forum to meet with school students to forge exciting pre-career connections.
Big Day In Junior
Big Day In Junior events are workshop based days for Year 5 and 6 students and are held at a host primary school. Students participate in between three to five 50 minute hands on workshops in area like coding and robotics. The focus is on introducing the younger students to ICT and STEM but in a fun and imaginative way.
Big Day In Sponsors
Our Big Day In events would not be possible with out our sponsors. They contribute in many ways which helps to make the events a success.
ICT is not just one career and offers varied pathways focused on different outcomes. The Careers Wheel has been developed for high school students. It is visual representation of ICT related jobs to assist high school students in selecting the type of technology career that is best for them.
Has the ACS Foundation met the objectives?
Since 2001 the foundation has been able to meet and exceed the expectations of the board and donors. The foundation has raised over $85 million in contributions from our corporate and individual donors. All the funds go to assisting students find their career in ICT. Our success rate is 100%. The foundation has awarded over 8,500 scholarships to help students start their careers.
To date we have partnered with over 250 sponsors and companies to build industry capability by;
Creating student pathways from school to TAFE and university, and onwards into careers.
Providing integrated work and life experience within academic and university studies.
Establishing scholarships, research grants and innovative pathways to connect students to the right career path in ICT.
If you would like to be part of the foundation as a student, sponsor or a donor you will find all the information you need at www.acsfoundation.com.au.
ACS Foundation succeeding since 2001
John Debrincat MACS, MAICD
Chair ACS Foundation Board Level 1, 160 Clarence Street Sydney NSW 2000 Australia