STEM skills crucial for workforce: research

STEM skills are highly valued by business and industry but there is a mismatch between the skills employers want and those of job applicants in these fields, according to research commissioned by the Chief Scientist.

The research, which was carried out by Deloitte Access Economics, looked at business attitudes to STEM skilled employees. Not all employers responded to every question but the findings included:

  • 384 out of 466 employers agreed that people with STEM qualifications are valuable to the workplace, even when their major field of study is not a prerequisite for their role.
  • 345 of 486 employers thought STEM employees were among the most innovative.
  • 241 of 451 employers expected their needs for STEM professionals to increase over the next five to ten years.
  • 144 of 356 employers reported difficulty filling technician and trades worker roles, and 135 of 429 had difficulty recruiting STEM graduates.
  • 140 of 502 employers said they currently offered work experience placements.
  • A lot of employers are not satisfied with their relationships with tertiary education institutions.

Deloitte Access Economics carried out the online survey in 2013. In total, 1,065 employers responded. They represented 450,000 employees, across a range of industry sectors.

Responding to the findings, Australian Industry Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox agreed that employees with STEM skills will play an important role in creating a more productive workforce.

"The occasional paper makes it very clear that STEM skills contribute to productivity growth and workplace innovation. These skills help us to operate more effectively and to remain globally competitive in the knowledge-based economy," Willox said in a statement.