The skills shortage in certain Engineering disciplines has been going on for a while now, especially outside of the capital cities. But are we doing enough to fix the situation? How come the numbers of domestic university enrolments in Engineering degrees is falling? Engineering graduates earn a competitive salary and have great prospects of employment in Australia, so why aren’t more people taking this career direction? According to Engineers Australia, domestic enrolments have dropped by an average of 4.3% per year since 2013 and it has been getting worse each year. There is one positive note however, there has been an increase in the number of women enrolling in Engineering degrees.
Australia is not the only country experiencing this shortage of engineering and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related talents. The same issue has been reported in other countries, including the US. STEM occupations are great for the economy, training.com.au notes “A 1 percent increase in people choosing STEM careers can contribute AUS$50 billion to the Australian economy.”
The Australian government is promoting STEM careers to try and encourage school leavers to choose this path, but research suggest that getting children interested in STEM needs to start from a young age. My kids are just starting school and I would love to see more options available to get them interested in science and engineering. Being in a regional city these options aren’t as readily available as they may be in the capital cities, but it’s up to us to change that. Start your own group and invite like-minded families along to build something, program a robot, even play Lego together, all of it helps get kids interested in STEM.
My niece recently competed in the First Robotics Competition in Sydney in March and again in the US in April. This event has been growing over recent years and it is exciting to see what these kids can do and the amount of joy they get out of building something. They have started on a career path that will be great for them and for the economy. I would love to see other national and international events like this for other STEM disciplines, the long term benefits for the economy would be fantastic.
How did you fall in love with engineering? Was it as a kid with Lego or robotics? or did you finish high school without any idea what you wanted to do and then decided? Can you think of any ways you can engage better with your community to create more interest in STEM?
Executive Recruitment Consultant