The global pandemic highlighted just how crucial engineers are to creating resilient communities, building robust supply chains and manufacturing vaccines.
Given border closures and immigration restrictions the national STEM skills gap has only become worse.
Even prior to COVID-19, Australia’s domestic supply of qualified engineers did not meet demand. This at a time when the economic growth and innovation of the future is set to come from industry 4.0 and quantum engineering, through to 3D printing and AI.
Multiversity is the first step towards what Engineers Australia hopes will be a fundamental pivot by government towards domestically solving our STEM shortage.
It has been encouraging to see significant buy-in from a number of universities and TAFEs, with these institutions moving towards more flexible modes of study.
While Multiversity is in its early days, expanding the number and variety of courses to encompass a wider range of engineering subjects will add value and give students more choice in what they can study.
Similarly, the courses currently available are overwhelmingly targeting students at the undergraduate level. While useful as a starting point, tapping into demand from middle and executive management seeking to upskill and network within the industry may be a useful area to consider.
The commercialisation of engineering innovation continues to be a perennial weakness of Australia’s STEM ecosystem.
Introducing study blocks focused on commercialisation and the business component of engineering alongside traditional engineering units will be an important contribution to solving this issue.
Given the qualifications offered are Diplomas or Certificates, the time constraints may mean integrating business components may be a more viable alternative.
Considering a stand-alone qualification focused on the commercialisation of engineering innovation would be a unique value that Multiversity would be in a strong position to deliver for students.
This type of course would fit well with the Aerotropolis’s macro vision as an innovation hub and provide what may be the missing link between generating solutions and bringing them to market.
It has been encouraging to see statements about developing strong links and input from the private sector. Ensuring this translates into concrete results and improved student outcomes is frequently challenging. Continuing to tailor courses to private sector demands will be critical to equipping students with relevant skills and increasing employability.
The future of engineering and the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 require us to fundamentally rethink how we engage with our national STEM skills shortage.
Multiversity is well positioned to be at the forefront of filling this gap and being part of the solution.
Moving beyond traditional modes of learning and partnering with the private sector is encouraging particularly if coupled with modules on how to commercialise innovation.