Understanding how industry conceptualises a valuable science graduate



higher education, job-readiness, industry, science graduates



The Australian Government consistently incentivises increasing the STEM capabilities of our workforce, with the recent Job-Ready Graduates Package illustrating this (Department of Education, Skills and Employment, 2021). However, science graduates struggle to find employment post-graduation, while industry struggles to recruit sufficiently skilled science graduates (Deloitte Access Economics, 2014). It appears universities may be insufficiently preparing science graduates for the workforce.


In this study, we explore the idea that miscommunication between universities and industry may contribute to the “problem” of science graduate “job-readiness”. Does industry truly understand what they want from science graduates? Can they clearly articulate it?


This study asks science industry employers about their conceptions of graduates who thrive in their workplace. We ask them to describe this graduate’s qualities and capabilities and explain how they demonstrate value to employers.


The results reveal surprising conceptions of “job-ready” and “industry-valuable” graduates, across a range of science industry contexts. The results also suggest ways universities can better prepare graduates to demonstrate their value to employers.


In this interactive session, we will examine how our conceptions compare with the results from industry perceptions. We will discuss the current terminology of “job-readiness” and consider ways we can improve industry-university collaboration around “industry-valuable” graduates.


Deloitte Access Economics (2014). Australia’s STEM Workforce: A Survey of Employers. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/au/Documents/Economics/deloitte-au-economics-australia-stem-workforce-report-010515.pdf

Department of Education, Skills and Employment (2021). Job-ready Graduates Package. https://dese.gov.au/job-ready

Author Biographies

Lauren J. Carpenter, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia.

PhD Candidate, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Susan Rowland, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia.

Associate Dean (Academic) and Deputy Executive Dean, Faculty of Science. Professor of Science Education, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.