CEO of Science & Technology Australia (STA), Ms Kylie Walker, said two decades of declines in high school maths and science results and enrolments were a significant risk to Australia’s future capability and prosperity.
“Intermediate and advanced maths enrolments are most worrying, with declines from 54 per cent in 1992, to 36 per cent in 2012,” Ms Walker said.
“We already have skilled workforce deficits in some areas of technology, and we know the major growth in future jobs will be in science, technology, engineering and maths: we need to support teachers with the right skills to prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow.
“We hope Minister Birmingham’s commitment to developing teacher skills extends to encouraging and incentivising universities to attract more students to undergraduate science and maths degrees.”
Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, this morning said around 20% of STEM teachers are teaching outside of their area expertise, noting that the Government wanted to ensure that universities are training future secondary teachers in science and mathematics.
“Many of our member organisations have been calling for urgent action to address the decline for some time,” Ms Walker said.
“Unfortunately, though, current caps on funding for undergraduate degrees pose significant challenges to building a STEM-qualified education workforce.
“STEM degrees are important to securing Australia’s prosperity, and though they are costly to deliver, they will pay dividends,” she said.
“The solution is twofold: have skilled teachers inspire students to develop a passion for STEM from an early age, and invest in universities to attract these students to pursue a degree in STEM.”