Alternate Pathways: Engineers Otherwise Engaged

In Learning

In a 3 February 2016 Article in The Australian entitled Engineers Otherwise Engaged, Tessa Akerman writes:

Less than half of Australia’s recent engineering graduates are working in the field, new research has found, with the researchers calling for prospective students to be better informed about the full range of career possibilities.

The analysis of 2011 census data by staff from Deakin University found only 32 per cent of respondents who reported a bachelor-level engineering qualification were working in engineering.

Across graduates aged 20-24, 46 per cent were working in the field, with the figure decreasing in subsequent age brackets.

Researchers Stuart Palmer, Mark Tolson, Karen Young and Malcolm Campbell found that within 10 years of graduation a majority of bachelor-qualified engineering graduates would be working in a non-engineering role, with similar findings in Britain and the US.

“The literature suggests that some graduate engineers are lured by financial rewards or driven by personal interests into other industrial sectors,” they found.

Their findings were published in the Australasian Journal of Engineering Education.

“Searching for information regarding where graduates might work … is far more likely to reveal descriptions of automotive manufacturing, bridge construction, power generation and water treatment than it is to show teaching calculus, completing foreign exchange transactions, authoring user manuals and selling medical electronic equipment, though both sets of outcomes are probably equally likely,” they wrote.

Dr Palmer said it was the skills engineers learned as part of their degree that made them attractive to employers outside the field.

“Employers often report that engineers have mathematical and analytical skills. That’s why they’re often sought after in finance consulting,” he said.

“It’s one of those professions where the job prospects are closely linked to the economy. When things are looking up, governments and companies invest in infrastructure that improves job prospects”.