Australia seeks STEM diversity to unlock future job growth

Australia’s STEM talent shortfall prompts government action with the Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review that advocates for inclusive solutions.
By: | February 14, 2024

Australia faces a talent crunch in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, potentially hindering its ability to seize opportunities in sectors like renewables and quantum technology. To address this, the government unveiled the Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review, proposing solutions to diversity and increase inclusion within the STEM workforce.

Led by Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic, the review highlighted the paramount objective of enhancing diversity and inclusivity, recognised as a pivotal step in nurturing a vibrant, STEM-proficient workforce crucial for driving Australia’s innovative future. Furthermore, these initiatives align with the government’s target of creating 1.2 million tech-related jobs by 2030.

Among the recommendations set forth are the establishment of a specialised advisory council to steer governmental strategies and galvanise transformative change, revisions in grant and procurement protocols for STEM-related programmes, and the fortification of existing Women in STEM initiatives alongside the introduction of analogous programmes tailored for other marginalised cohorts in STEM education and professions.

Engaging with nearly 385 individuals and 94 organisations, in addition to receiving 300 written submissions, the Review Panel’s recommendations were also informed by research reports, including the STEM Career Pathways report commissioned by the National Science and Technology Council.

Identifying barriers to STEM careers, the STEM Career Pathways report advocates for enhanced coordination between the university and vocational sectors, improved access to experiential learning opportunities, and micro-credentialing schemes aimed at upskilling employees.

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Moreover, it underscores the imperative of better integrating skilled migrants and international graduates on post-study work visas into the workforce by fostering a deeper understanding among employers of foreign qualifications and graduates’ employment rights. 

“These reports recommend new pathways to get more women and people from diverse backgrounds into STEM careers. We need more people skilled-up to make the most of the opportunities in the growing science and technology jobs market,” Husic concluded.