EXECUTIVE INSIGHT Ballet and Bunsen Burners
3 June 2015 at 11:04 am
A global electronics giant is increasingly plugging in with Australian youth, preparing them for a future in the digital world with a suite of programs teaching young people skills in ballet, science and social enterprise.
Locally, Samsung’s CSR focus is on enabling young Australians to achieve their potential. This stems from company’s articulated global priority: to create positive change for people in the world through pillars of education, employment, healthcare and the environment, and to encourage innovative and creative thinking.
Samsung Australia’s Corporate Affairs Manager, told Pro Bono Australia News about how the company’s broad range of community partnerships are serving Australian youth, and how the electronics industry must step up to address Australia’s growing deficiencies in science, technology and engineering.
Youth for Change
In Australia, Samsung’s focus is firmly on the education pillar. Johnston says the company selects CSR partnerships to align with its own social goals, and chooses organisations with the expertise to make headway in achieving those goals.
One major partnership is with the Foundation for Young Australians, which underpins several programs focused on youth and social change.
Adappt is an app development program that encourages Australians aged 12 to 25 to discover how creative thinking, problem solving, entrepreneurship and technology can come together to help create social change, while Propeller is an online platform and funding program to support social-change initiatives for young Australians.
Johnston says these programs are unique because they have been co-created and are managed by both organisations in tandem.
“We have been able to provide our innovative technology and lend our expertise to the creation of these programs far beyond what is possible in regular community sponsorship,” Johnston says.
“The benefits from this are clearly visible. For example, since its launch a year ago, the Propeller Project has already provided 70 community-based projects with funding to support them in their social change initiatives.
“What has been most exciting is to see the young people get inspired to create change in what matters to them….we are currently working with a group of young Indigenous Australians in the development of an app to help preserve their language and culture on Mornington Island, Queensland.
“This is a really great example of how we are able to use technology to help create positive change within Australian society. The development of this app means this community will be able to help preserve their culture and share it with more generations.
“The Australian Ballet, and our new partnership with Questacon, follow a more traditional partnership path, but both are special because of the groups they target and the skills they teach.”
Out There – The Australian Ballet in schools aims to give young Australians the opportunity to participate and value dance as a form of artistic expression, recreational activity and entertainment. Instructors visit schools to conduct workshops, particularly in regional and remote areas. Samsung became the program's partner organisation in 2014, reaching around 15,000 students annually.
“Locally, we focus on inspiring and engaging young Australians to help them reach their potential through education and by providing new experiences and opportunities to learn. We know young people in this country are at a crossroads with high unemployment rates and a changing workforce. But we see so much opportunity for them, and want to support them in their optimism, ” Jonhston says.
STEM Skills for The New Economy
Part of Samsung's focus on youth includes the encouragement of science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) skills – skills that have been flagged as integral for success in the future digital world.
STEM skills, Johnston says, fit squarely in with Samsung’s core business.
“We identify and focus on areas that through our expertise, Samsung is best placed to help. As a technology and innovation company, we are passionate about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM),” she says.
“We know that in Australia, 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations require skills in these areas. But there’s a disconnect in schools, with fewer young people choosing to study science and maths despite the great career opportunities they can lead to. It was from this insight that we created Samsung Adappt.
“It was also the cornerstone in creating our new partnership with Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre; through which Samsung is the Technology Partner for the Smart Skills workshops that will be delivered in regional areas around Australia.”
“There are obvious strengths to working with and supporting Questacon, who have a long and outstanding history of supporting STEM education. Even so, we worked closely with them through a research, trial and scoping process to make sure that Samsung is providing support where we are best placed to do so….having Samsung technology integrated into the learning experience really intensifies the value we can bring to STEM education in Australia.”
Johnston says a focus on STEM should extend out to the broader electronics industry.
“As new technology emerges, so too do improved methods for social contribution, meaning that the electronics industry at the moment has an increased chance to work in the CSR industry to create stronger, more meaningful impact,” she says.
“Overall, there are some solid foundations in the industry. We’ve seen some great programs implemented by tech companies, regardless of size or scale. Internet.org, which Samsung proudly supports, is a great example of technology creating new opportunity for people around the world.
“From our perspective, the foundations are there, but there is always opportunity to build on these.”
Johnston says that for the foreseeable future, Samsung will continue to scale up its work with young people.
“We are really proud of our programs and what we’ve achieved so far, but we do believe in continuously improving everything we do,” she says.
“Many of our programs are only just beginning, so we see lots of opportunities to build scale and engage more and more young people each year.
“Take Samsung Adappt for example, this year we will look to build scale and inspire young Australians to participate in our programs and create a movement focused on building and fostering new skills for the next generation.
“We are hoping to do this by asking young Australians to engage in social issues that matter most to them, such as mental health. We are hosting various events to bring the ideas and foundations of Samsung Adappt to a new audience to help us reach more and more young people.
“Any programs that have multiple community outcomes from one activity also provide strength to CSR activities. Looking at our programs, we’ve been able to combine technology and innovation with partners with strong community connections, layering education outcomes with other social change.
“These trends are achieving new heights in business delivering on social value but I think there is still room for traditional community partnerships. Programs like [the ballet program] are worth investing in because they have a clear purpose, formed through rigorous research, and achieve value to a young person’s education that would not otherwise have been possible without corporate support.”
Johnston says she is also seeing a growing role for social enterprise and public/private partnerships with more clearly defined end points and KPIs.
“A lot of these community programs are being built with an exit strategy as a key objective.These strategies can include the removal of the whole program once a community issue has stabilised or spell out how individual participants will emerge from the program having got the ‘hand-up’ they need. Helping break cycles of disadvantage and inequality is key to long term benefits,” she says.
“There is obvious value in different sectors working together to build stronger communities than any one group can by themselves.
“There is a commitment in place through a variety of sectors and some powerful work being done. We see opportunity for companies to continue to create new opportunities and reach larger portions of the community.
“Through technology and the electronics industry, we see this as something that is almost inevitable due to the constantly evolving state of technology and its growing reach into how we go about our day to day lives.
“Watch this space!”