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Occupational outcomes for bachelor of science graduates in Australia and implications for undergraduate science curricula
journal contributionposted on 2018-10-01, 00:00 authored by Stuart Palmer, Malcolm CampbellMalcolm Campbell, Liz JohnsonLiz Johnson, Jan WestJan West
Recent national reports have highlighted the contribution that the sciences make to the Australian economy. Many developed economies report perceived shortages of STEM qualified workers, and at the same time, many science graduates have difficulty in finding work, especially work in their discipline. Rational education design dictates that science curricula at all levels should be based on a realistic representation of the actual practice of science graduates. So where do Australian science graduates go postgraduation? Using the Australian national census data set, we present a focussed investigation into the occupational status of Australian science bachelor graduates, how this status varies with graduate age and gender, how this status varies between science degree specialisms and how this status compares to a range of other disciplines. We consider the implications of these findings for undergraduate science degree curriculum design. We find that Australian science bachelor graduates work in a wide range of occupations, and even immediately postgraduation, only a minority of science bachelor graduates are working in traditional science occupations. Occupational outcomes vary significantly between science degree specialisms. For a contemporary undergraduate science curriculum to reflect the occupational outcomes of science bachelor graduates, there is a balance required to ensure adequate technical preparation for those students who pursue a career in their discipline as science professionals and to also address the broader knowledge, skills and attitudes that will equip the majority of graduates from Australian science programs for successful employment, further education and active participation in their communities, using their science knowledge.