Tag Archives: Future workforce

graduate employment

Graduate employment in a changing world

How do you best set yourself up to get your dream job in a competitive marketplace? What are the skills that you need to succeed in graduate employment, and how can you determine these skills when technology, the global economy and the make-up of the skilled workforce are rapidly changing?

As the government stands poised on a knife’s edge, Science Meets Business set out to determine the top ways skilled workers can position themselves in today’s uncertain times, and the best future prospects for graduate employment. Our panel of thought leaders considered the importance of the skills that aren’t taught in our universities – how to network, pitch yourself, stay a specialist but garner the ability to work across a broad range of disciplines, with people from a variety of fields.

Getting out of your comfort zone

Scientists becoming marketers, industry business developers that can speak to research – different timelines, different prerogatives, different values, varied benchmarks of success, and the struggle towards a gender equitable workforce. These are just of a few of the road bumps on the path towards a new economy based on skills and services, ideas and inventions, rather than resources.

Job requiring skills in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine) grew at about 1.5 times the rate of other jobs in recent years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That’s great news.

But ensuring our STEMM-skilled workforce has the best opportunities for graduate employment requires more than a passion for work.

Competition in graduate employment

More graduates today are looking for work than there have been for the last 24 years – a record 11.6% of graduates in Australia in 2014 were seeking full-time graduate employment – without success, according to the 2014 Graduate Destinations report from Graduate Careers Australia.

In this competitive workplace, we must ensure not only that we prepare our graduates for success – creating, skilled, agile workers – but that we have the economy that can support them in the future.

How do we get there? We asked our panel of experts to map the path.

Heather Catchpole

Co-founder, Refraction Media

Read next: Victor RodriguesChief Software Architect at Cochlear, on what makes a prospective graduate stand out in the crowd.

People and careers: Meet graduates and postgraduates who’ve paved brilliant, cross-disciplinary careers here, find further success stories here and explore your own career options at postgradfutures.com

Spread the word: Help to grow Australia’s graduate knowhow! Share this piece using the social media buttons below.

Be part of the conversation: Share your ideas on creating and propelling top Australian graduates. We’d love to hear from you!

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Australian Innovation Thought Leadership Series here.

science literacy

Path to a ‘right-skilled’ workforce

The world is changing and changing fast! Several studies, such as Australia’s Future Workforce released by CEDA last year, tell us that 40% of the jobs we know today will not exist in 15 years. So what do we need to do be ready for this? Here is my four-step plan:

1. Need for basic science literacy

The need of a base level of science literacy is growing as our society becomes increasingly dependent on technology and science to support our daily lives[1]. However, the number of school children undertaking science and mathematics in their final years at high school is dropping at alarming rates.

Those who can use devices and engage with new technology are able to participate better in the modern world. Those unable to are left behind.

Because Australia has high labour costs, and as robotics and other automated technologies replace many jobs, school education needs to inspire young Australians to realise that science is both a highly creative endeavour, and a pathway to entrepreneurial and financial success.

We need to inspire a wider range of personality types to consider post-school science and engineering training and education as a pathway to build new businesses.

2. Need to broaden the scope of university education

Currently Australian universities are highly motivated to direct research and teaching activities towards academic excellence, as this is the recognised measure of university performance.

Industry experience and methods of solving industrial problems are not generally seen as components of the metrics of academic excellence.

We need to increase the focus on developing entrepreneurial skills and industry exposure and engagement during university education.


“If we are to achieve improvements in economic stimulus by R&D investment, it will be necessary to lift the skills base and the absorptive capacity of Australian companies.”


3. Need to lift industry skills

It is essential that businesses and technologists better understand people’s needs and wants, so they can be more successful in designing and producing products and services that increase their competitiveness locally, and allow them to enter the global market. They can do this by using the opportunities that digital-, agile-, e- and i-commerce can offer.

If we are to achieve improvements in economic stimulus by R&D investment, it will be necessary to lift the skills base and the absorptive capacity of Australian companies.

Recent statistics demonstrate that Australian manufacturing is characterised by a high vocational education and training (VET) to university-educated workforce ratio. If we are to move to a more advanced industry focus in Australia, this ratio needs to change – not necessarily by reducing the number of VET-qualified employees, but through the development of higher-value positions that necessitate a university science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educated workforce.

In industrial settings, complexities occur where the adoption of design-led innovation principles can make a difference. Recent research has indicated that the application of design-led innovation by Australian companies can be the forerunner of future success.

4. Embracing the full human potential

As future capacity builds through the initiatives mentioned above, there is a need to engage the full spectrum of capability that is already trained in STEM.

There is latent capability there for the taking if we capitalise on the opportunities that a diverse workforce has to offer.

Development of approaches to attract and retain women, people of different cultures, broader age groups including the young and the old, and all socioeconomic classes, has the potential to lift our workforce skill set.

Time is running out. We need to act now.

Dr Cathy Foley

Deputy Director and Science Director, CSIRO Manufacturing Flagship

Read next: Dr Alex Zelinsky, Chief Defence Scientist and Head of the Defence Science and Technology Group on how National security relies on STEM.

Spread the word: Help to grow Australia’s innovation knowhow! Share this piece using the social media buttons below.

Be part of the conversation: Share your ideas on innovating Australia in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

[1] Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future, A Report from the Office of the Chief Scientist, September 2014.