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Australia’s STEM workforce: A survey of employers

Deloitte Access Economics

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) play a critical role in Australia’s ability to innovate, expand, and remain a competitive force globally.

This report, commissioned by the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS), seeks to understand the skills requirements of Australian businesses with regards to STEM. The research was conducted by Deloitte Access Economics, and included a literature scan, a series of consultation sessions and a large online survey targeted at businesses that employ people with qualifications in one or more of the STEM disciplines.

Key findings

  • The employer survey conducted for this project confirms that STEM graduates are in demand in Australian workplaces. Over 82% of respondents to the employer survey agreed that people with STEM qualifications are valuable to the workplace, even when their qualification is not a prerequisite for the role
  • The survey results show that employers are particularly looking for capabilities in active learning, critical thinking, complex problem-solving and creative problem-solving, all of which correlate closely with STEM qualification based skills
  • An important factor highlighted throughout the research was the fast pace of change of many STEM-related industries. This lends itself to re-evaluate whether the demands of Australian businesses operating in these sectors are being adequately met in relation to skill needs 
  • Work placements and work experience were highlighted as one of the most effective teaching methods for helping students acquire the skills they need in the workplace
  • The findings in this report demonstrate that there is significant awareness, engagement, and in some instances, concern, regarding the current and future supply of adequate STEM skills available for Australian businesses.

Any solutions and strategies must be considered in a global context, with nations all around the world increasingly focussed on ensuring an adequate supply of STEM skills. Not only are other countries a source of both supply and competition for STEM skills, but many of the lessons and policies implemented may also provide valuable directions for Australia as it moves to develop a national STEM strategy.

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