New research from Deakin University has revealed that less than half of Australia’s recent engineering graduates are working in their field, but most of them are likely to work in highly skilled and highly paid jobs.
Associate Professor Stuart Palmer from Deakin’s Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment said they analysed data from the most recent Australian Census, involving more than 200,000 respondents who had reported a bachelor-level professional engineering qualification.
For graduates aged 20-24, 46% were working in a professional engineering role. For all respondents, the figure was just 32%. More than 14% of all engineering bachelor graduates were working in IT and other technology-related industries outside of engineering.
“The last Census occurred when the Australian economy had only begun to recover from the global financial crisis, so the good 2011 employment outcomes for engineering graduates shows that universities are educating highly employable graduates," said Palmer.
“Our study shows that an engineering degree is a valuable qualification to have in a wide range of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) industries, as well as many non-STEM industries."
He said they found 10% of engineering graduates were working in general, non-professional roles, while other fields in which graduates ended up working in included marketing, construction, finance, science, education and health.
“Engineers have high level maths skills, and it is those skills, combined with technology, analysis and design expertise, which can make them prized recruits in the commerce and finance fields,” Palmer said.
He said the findings were similar to those from research in the UK and US.
“In the UK, the idea that engineering and other STEM graduates can work outside of their primary field is actually promoted, but that’s not something that is commonly done in Australia, which is a shame,” he said.
“In our paper, we recommend that engineering students would be better informed about, and equipped for, the world of post-graduation work if they were exposed to the likely options for their career trajectory. Likewise, the findings also suggest that modern undergraduate engineering curricula should take the portability of an engineering qualification into consideration.”