Coding education key to Australia's competitiveness, says Shorten

Labor leader continues to promote plan to get kids coding

Bill Shorten has continued spruiking Labor's proposal to beef up software development skills in Australia.

"We need to be investing in coding and teaching our children the computational thinking skills we will need in the future to make Australia competitive," the opposition leader told a press conference in Adelaide this morning.

"We also need to be investing in our universities, and our research, and our start-ups to ensure our children get the best start in the future."

The Labor leader's budget reply last week included a big focus increased investment in software development education.

Shorten described coding as the "literacy of the 21st Century" in his speech.

Under Shorten's plan, a Labor government would wipe out the HECS debts of 100,000 science technology, engineering and maths graduates over a five-year period.

The government's education minister, Christopher Pyne, has criticised the policy, questioning Labor's costings. According to the government, a conservative estimate from the Department of Education and Training pegs the cost of the HECS write-off at $2.25 billion.

Labor has said that code should be a core part of the national curriculum for primary and secondary schools. Shorten's budget reply also outlined plans to boost the number of teachers qualified to teach STEM subjects.

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