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Employability and the future of STEM in Western Australia

State Government of Western Australia

| 2019

Chief Investigator(s):

Professor Dawn Bennett (Curtin University)

Core Research Team:

Dr Sherry Bawa (Curtin University)
Associate Professor Michael Dockery (Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, Curtin University)
Dr Elizabeth Knight (Monash University)
Philippa Munckton (Curtin University program manager)

Project Information

With a focus STEM students’ perceptions of careers and employability, this study elicited important insights for policy and for the education sector in seeking to promote participation in STEM courses and the STEM workforce. We were mindful of Grinis’ (2016) finding that over one-third of STEM positions belong to non-STEM occupations and that one-sixth of the jobs advertised in non-STEM occupations are in fact STEM roles. As such, the project team considered the core STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics alongside medicine and allied health disciplines, with non-STEM(M)disciplines included for comparison.

The researchers engaged in three inter-related tasks. The main task was to enable annual waves of data collection on students’ self-reported employability across a range of domains including career and study decision making, motivation, goal setting and self-esteem, using the validated employABILITY measure (Bennett, 2018). This was achieved by adapting the self-assessment tool to enable student access via a mobile responsive website. The second task involved 12,676 post-secondary students, including 3,383 STEM students and 5,863 students from STEMM, in the first wave of data collection. The third task was a review of the extant literature relating to STEM employability.

Key findings are detailed in the final report.

The major deliverable of this project was the adapted employABILITY thinking online self-assessment tool, enabling access via a mobile responsive website. Once this was achieved, the team extended the scope of the project to create an open access, curated collection of student resources which responded to the key findings. These were combined as a STEM toolkit for educators and students. The toolkit houses instructional videos, seminar recordings, educator guides and links to external resources. The design enables contributions to be revised and added over time, forming a “home” for multiple STEM-related resources.

References

Embedding employABILITY thinking across higher education. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Education and Training. Submitted July, 2018.

Grinis, I. (2016). The stem requirements of “non-stem” jobs: Evidence from UK online vacancy postings and implications for skills and knowledge shortages (May 1, 2017). SRC Discussion Paper No 69. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.2864225.

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Bennett, D. (2018). Embedding employABILITY thinking across higher education. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Education and Training. Submitted July, 2018.

Grinis, I. (2016). The stem requirements of “non-stem” jobs: Evidence from UK online vacancy postings and implications for skills and knowledge shortages (May 1, 2017). SRC Discussion Paper No 69. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.2864225.

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