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STEM skills:

Overview

Strong STEM skills, (science, engineering, technology and mathematics) are extremely important for the knowledge economy.

While often associated with the university sector, the report Australia’s STEM Workforce released by the Office of the Chief Scientist on Australia’s STEM workforce shows that the vocational education and training (VET) sector provides more than two thirds of Australia’s STEM workforce.

However, different industries have different levels of STEM needs and more work needs to be done with the relevant Training Packages to specify realistic standards for STEM related competency requirements.

2% of IRC Skills Forecasts identified this skill as a priority

Industry skills needs

STEM skills ranked as the 11th highest-priority by industry, with only 2% of individual IRC Skills Forecasts listing them as a priority for their workforce.

When considering the IRC’s ranking of generic skills, STEM skills ranked 8th highest (out of 12).

While not ranked as a priority, STEM-related skills are touched upon throughout a handful of IRC Skill Forecasts, particularly where digital skills are referenced.

The industry that identified STEM skills as a priority in their IRC Skills Forecast is:

  • Recreational Vehicles.

Case studies

Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry consists of 10 industry sectors which have a demand for STEM skills including:

  • Manufacturing and Engineering
  • Plastics, Rubber and Cablemaking
  • Recreational Vehicles and Process Manufacturing
  • Sustainability
  • Textiles, Clothing and Footwear
  • Furnishing
  • Manufactured Mineral Products
  • Aeroskills
  • Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining
  • Laboratory Operations.

     

  

Quotes from various IRC Skills Forecasts which fit within the Manufacturing industry cluster show why STEM skills are a priority in these industry sectors:

Compounding the challenge of attracting new entrants is the challenge of low foundation skills and STEM skills. It is acknowledged by stakeholders that the occupations in the industry are becoming increasingly technology-driven and require new entrants to have strong foundation skills and STEM skills. Increasingly school leavers being directed into vocational pathways lack STEM skills as there is little understanding within the school system of the STEM requirements for vocational pathways. The report released by the Chief Scientist on Australia’s STEM workforce shows that the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector provides more than two thirds of Australia’s STEM workforce. Manufacturing is one of the top five industries employing STEM graduates, employing 10% of the STEM workforce. It is clear that more work needs to be done with the relevant Training Packages to specify realistic standards for STEM related competency requirements. (Manufacturing and Engineering IRC)

STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills and foundation, language, literacy and numeracy skills are essential prerequisites for most new industry roles and may limit the pool of people able to undertake polymer processing qualifications; new job entrants lacking the basic skills and knowledge to succeed in the industry, including: the required science, technology, engineering and mathematics (stem) skills, foundation skills and hand skills. (Aeroskills).

The Laboratory Operations Training Package is utilised across many industries as can been seen by the range of challenges and opportunities identified by stakeholders. As such stakeholders are concerned that attracting new entrants to the sector with adequate foundation skills (including LLN) and STEM skills is vital. The National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) with its focus on increasing the STEM skills of Australian students and promoting STEM careers for women is viewed by stakeholders as a significant opportunity for the sector. Together with the release of the National Curricula for Science and Mathematics8 and the development of a National Curriculum for Technologies9, the sector is seeing opportunities for growth in the school education sector as well as a potential supply of new entrant workers for the laboratory sector in general. Stakeholders note that the sector may struggle to find new entrants, with both the ageing laboratory technicians in the education sector and lack of current laboratory technical staff moving into teaching positions being of concern. (Laboratory Operations IRC).

Updated: 29 May 2018
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