Engineering Choices, Engineering Futures
The future economic well-being of Australia depends on a continuous supply of skilled engineers and scientists for its workforce. However, there is considerable evidence to show that in spite of strong career prospects, there has been a decline in the study of engineering and the physical sciences in and universities. The continuing nation-wide decline in high school student enrolment in higher level mathematics and science is also leading to a reduction in the number of students undertaking university engineering programs in Australia.
The Engineering Choices, Engineering Futures project set out to understand this phenomenon in order to be able to reverse the decline in engineering enrolments. This required an investigation of broad scope that built on the literature about scientific literacy, science and maths achievement, career choice, satisfaction with school and science and maths teaching.
The main findings of this study can be summarised in 3 types of actions:
- Enriching the primary school experience of young Australians was identified by this research as the key to a successful long-term solution to the engineering skills shortage currently experienced in Australia.
- Enthusing secondary school students already taking high-level science and mathematics subjects to pursue the engineering field is a task that could be accomplished to help ease the engineering skill shortage in the medium term.
- Encouraging intending tertiary students into engineering degrees and retaining those who have already started these studies is an approach to tackling the skills shortage in the shorter term.