The Nexus Between STEM Qualifications and Graduate Employability: Employers’ Perspectives

Gerry Rayner, Theo Papakonstantinou

Abstract


A science education is an important element of a literate, advanced and modern society, and the teaching of science is mandatory through to mid-secondary schooling. Despite this, and notwithstanding the range of skills and capabilities provided by a science degree, a straight bachelor’s degree (BSc) does not guarantee a science-related career. In fact, recent evidence indicates that only a moderate proportion of BSc graduates obtain science-related employment immediately upon leaving university. Reasons for this include the general nature of a science degree and the diversity of jobs possible for such graduates. A considerable gap in the literature pertaining to science graduate employability is the lack of employer perspectives on the comparative value of various tertiary qualifications (e.g. BSc, Masters, PhD). Insight into such perspectives, and the linking of this to the skill sets provided by different qualifications, may provide a basis to better inform students about their study choices and considerations regarding postgraduate study, framed against their longer-term career aspirations. This information can also enable university educators to refine science curricula to better inculcate the skills most highly valued by employers, thus providing greater leverage for students as they progress through their university studies. This paper reports on such a study, and articulates the potential synergies that may arise from strengthening the dialogue and collaboration between science educators and STEM graduate employers.

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