The Government has released a discussion paper responding to the Chief Scientist’s STEM plan.
Professionals Australia CEO Chris Walton welcomed the Government’s response but noted concerns about the lack of recognition that smart, original, creative, passionate people are at the heart of any successful STEM strategy.
“One of Professionals Australia’s main concerns is the lack of recognition of the importance of STEM workforce development at the enterprise level.”
“Put simply, there is no point in education providers, industry and employers working together to improve the takeup of STEM subjects in the final years of secondary school and at university to ensure a strong pipeline of STEM graduates if graduates leave the workforce after five years due to a failure to address the basics”, he said.
“While the recommendations quite rightly talk about better ways of determining supply and demand, CPD opportunities and the need to improve the diversity of the talent pool from which STEM workers are drawn, we need to understand that the basics must also be recognised – things like job and income security in the face of 12-month funding cycles, early and mid-career path opportunities where specialisation can limit job mobility, access to flexible work practices to try to retain those who would otherwise leave the workforce and take their skills and experience with them, and access to challenging and responsible work, for example, are each vital to ensuring an engaged, motivated, agile and sustainable STEM workforce.”
“Management capability is also critical to maximising STEM performance at the enterprise level. Managers and leaders need to involve staff in planning, strategy and decision-making, take a consultative and inclusive approach to change management and ensure that organisational needs are properly aligned with staff recruitment, reward and recognition strategies.”
“It’s also vital that STEM-based organisations acknowledge the risk to community safety and impact on quality of service when experienced qualified STEM professionals are replaced by staff with neither qualifications nor experience. Where qualified and experienced STEM professionals are seen as a cost to be cut rather than central to an organisation’s safety and risk profile, innovation capability and capacity to deliver quality service, the STEM workforce and in turn the STEM strategy will always be at risk.”
“It’s clear that specialist skills and high-level experience are where many of the skills gaps currently exist, and in view of the long lead time to develop STEM skills and experience, we need a commitment to investing in the basics at the enterprise level now to make sure we develop the skills profile and innovation capability we need for the future.”
If you would like to comment on these issues, or any other areas set out in the paper and recommendations, email your feedback to email@example.com.