The need for an engineering pipeline strategy
Today we can see there is currently enough engineers to sustain a low-growth economy, with just enough school students entering the engineering pipeline.
We know this won’t last and we have ambitions to improve our situation.
Our recent report, Engineers Make Things Happen, calls on Government to invest in an engineering pipeline strategy to try to reverse the decline of secondary students taking up STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) subjects.
If the rate of decline in STEM studies does not change, the nation will become ever-more reliant on skilled migration to meet future industry needs; from high-tech manufacturing to state-owned infrastructure.
To provide a mechanism for quantifying the effect of these factors on engineering our report has introduced the concept of a ‘degree of difficulty.’
Degree of Difficulty measures the percentage of high school STEM students who universities must recruit if the current engineering student intake is to be maintained.
"Retention between young men and young women in STEM subjects is dropping year-on-year."
Attracting young women to the profession
The report also notes the difficulty of finding enough young women who study advanced maths and physics at school.
The report’s findings show less than 6 per cent of girls nationally studied physics in year 12, with advanced maths numbers almost as bad – 6.2 per cent for girls and 11.5 per cent for boys.
The degree of difficulty for recruiting enough young men across both advanced maths, physics, intermediate maths and chemistry is moderate to low. For young women, it’s extremely difficult and young men are also likely to follow a similar path.
The report shows that retention between young men and young women in STEM subjects is dropping year-on-year.
Our report also explains why Australia should value its home-grown engineers, before examining the recent reliance on skilled migrants and their employment outcomes.
“Australia is excessively dependent on skilled migration.”
A global search for talent
The report shows that migrant engineers are much less likely to be in engineering-related employment, which indicates a missed opportunity to utilise their talent and a need for a review of the skilled migration program.
Report data shows 57 per cent of engineers currently working in Australia were born overseas compared with 40 per cent in other professions.
Relying on skilled migration also comes with risks to supply, especially when global demand for engineers competes with Australia’s migration needs.
Engineers Australia recommends a range of action be taken, with a focus on skilled migration, school education and workforce development more generally. The specific recommendations are available in the summary document on page 70 of the full report.