Are Children the Key to Our Innovative Future?

October 16th, 2015

The youth of today, according to a renowned South Australian academic, should be trained in developing a more creative mindset to assist them in taking advantage of job opportunities in our increasingly innovative economy. Dr David Cropley, the University of South Australia associate professor in engineering innovation, pitched the idea and said that governments were realising changes were needed to create success.

children sliding down a water slideWith the Prime Minister Turnbull focusing on innovation at the heart of his job-creation agenda, evidence has arisen lately that Australia needs to have a culture that is more open to innovation. Could targeting children be the start of creating this culture shift? Dr Cropley elaborates by stating, “Part of the innovative mindset starts right back in schools. We’ve got to be educating kids to have a more creative and innovative mindset, to be open to new ideas and open to experiences — that begins at school.”

Moreover, Dr Cropley said parts of Australia were already profiting from the increased job opportunities due to innovation in the global economy, predominantly through technology. “Thirty years ago in South Australia you left school, you worked for a bank or for a car manufacturer, that was pretty much your horizon,” he said. “Nowadays, particularly with this shift to innovation, I think there’s a realisation that you can do anything you like and the opportunities are far less constrained.”

However, how does one teach a ‘creative’ or ‘innovative’ mind to children? Queensland has taken the first steps in embracing a more technological economy, by making coding and robotics compulsory in schools from prep to Year 10. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has implemented this change as part of the ‘advancing education’ plan and believes this will help ensure students are the digital creators and innovators of Queensland’s future.

Drawing up similarities to learning a new language like Mandarin or Japanese, Palaszczuk believes it is imperative for students to learn the language of coding. The aim of including the new literacy of coding is so that children can look at problems in new and creative ways and to create a technically skilled economy.

Certainly, agenda’s such as these may assist in swaying more young Australians to enter the technological or scientific fields. However, is an innovative mind something you can teach at such a young age? Will swapping our Barbie’s and Ken’s for robotics and code help us achieve a more innovative society? Only time will tell, incentives such as this is definitely a step in the right direction though, considering a recent NAB Innovation Report Summary revealed just 13% of all firms rate Australia as “highly innovative”.

Nonetheless, innovation doesn’t just encompass teaching our youth how to code – companies can already partake in an increasingly global environment by investing in research and development to drive innovation. The Australian government encourages businesses to do this by allowing business owners to offset research and development with R&D Tax Credits. Posing the question, could you be claiming cash back for research and development projects you’ve invested in? Have a chat with us today to see if you’re eligible.

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