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Using census data to better understand engineering occupational outcomes

conference contribution
posted on 2018-12-01, 00:00 authored by Stuart Palmer, Malcolm CampbellMalcolm Campbell
CONTEXT
University graduate employment outcomes are a topic of international importance. In Australia, in recent years, employment rates for engineering graduates have declined significantly. What has not been clear is what type of jobs those graduates in work have been obtaining. A clearer understanding of the occupational outcomes, both short- and long-term, are needed for the rational design of university engineering curricula.
PURPOSE
The research presented here seeks to understand the nature of the occupational outcomes for Australian engineering bachelor graduates. Of particular interest is the proportion of graduates working outside the discipline and how curricula prepare graduates for this.
APPROACH
Australian national census data from 2006, 2011 and 2016 were examined to identify the occupational outcomes for engineering bachelor graduates. This was combined with complementary census data identifying who works in a professional engineering role. The influence of student diversity is also considered.
RESULTS
Over the period 2006-2016, the percentage of engineering bachelor graduates in employment has declined across most age ranges, but the decline has been particularly stark for those in the typical new graduate age range. The proportion of engineering bachelor graduates working in a professional engineering role has also declined, and for new graduates this proportion reached very low levels in 2016. In Australia, engineering bachelor qualified people make up a minority of those reporting working in a professional engineering role.
CONCLUSIONS
The Australian national census data over the period 2006-2016 reveal the complexity/diversity of occupational outcomes for engineering bachelor graduates – many will work out of a professional engineering role if they wish to work at all, and the Australian professional engineering workforce is very diverse, including many people without an engineering bachelor qualification. These results have important implications for those with the responsibility for the design of undergraduate engineering curricula to best prepare students for the future work environment that they will graduate into, which are discussed in this paper. The analysis of three cycles of census data establishes a benchmark time series that will be useful for future research.

History

Event

Australasian Association for Engineering Education. Annual Conference. (29th : 2018 : Hamilton, N.Z.)

Series

Australasian Association for Engineering Education Annual Conference

Pagination

1 - 7

Publisher

Engineers Australia

Location

Hamilton, N.Z.

Place of publication

[Hamilton, N.Z.]

Start date

2018-12-09

End date

2018-12-12

ISBN-13

9781925627367

Language

eng

Publication classification

E Conference publication; E1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2018, Australasian Association for Engineering Education

Editor/Contributor(s)

[Unknown]

Title of proceedings

AAEE 2018: Proceedings of the 29th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Annual Conference

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