Occasional Paper: STEM-trained and job-ready

A paper released today by the Office of the Chief Scientist reveals that tertiary science and ICT students in Australia are being disadvantaged by a lack of industry experience.

Although engineering faculties require all students to complete industry placements in order to graduate, such placements have played a marginal role in science and IT education in Australia.

With just three in one hundred undergraduate students in the natural and physical sciences participating in an industry placement of at least 12 weeks duration, Professor Chubb said change was needed.

“We need industry and universities working better together to prepare our future workers to innovate, collaborate and adapt.”

The paper, STEM-trained and job-ready is based on two commissioned surveys, one conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) of university staff and the other by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) involving employers. An industry working group with representatives from peak industry bodies and the university sector oversaw the surveys.

University staff reported a lack of time and resources as well as low industry participation, while employers were often unsure who to approach.

Both the university sector and employers recognised that a cultural shift of the scale required could not come about without commitment, planning and action. The paper puts forward a set of actions that could dramatically lift participation in work integrated learning in Australia.

Read STEM-trained and job-ready or download the media release.

The full commissioned reports are also available:

Work integrated learning in STEM in Australian Universities (ACER)
Work integrated learning in STEM disciplines: employer perspectives (NCVER)