A Pricewaterhouse Coopers report has predicted that almost 50 per cent of all current Australian professions will not exist within twenty years. This works out to the disappearance of almost 5.1 million jobs.

The report: The STEM Imperative: Future Proofing Australia’s Workforce, urges Australians to study science, engineering, mathematics, and technology subjects. It cautions those in professions like accountancy, checkout operators, administration workers, and wood machinists as being particularly at risk.

These professions currently employ more than 700,000 Australians. These people, the report advises, should begin re-skilling themselves as soon as possible.

The report also warns that Australia is ‘lagging’ behind the rest of the world in data-driven and digital technologies. Business innovation, it says, must come from these STEM trained employees.

“Research indicates that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations now require STEM skills, and over 70 per cent of Australian employers identify STEM employees as being among the most innovative.”

Between 1992 and 2012, the research found, there were decreases in year twelve participation of: 11 per cent in intermediate mathematics, 10 per cent in biology, 5 per cent in chemistry, and 7 per cent for physics.

Enrolments and completions of tertiary STEM classes remained unchanged between 2001 and 2013. Non-STEM courses, by comparison, saw steady growth during the same period.

The great concern, the report concludes, is the possibility of a large unskilled workforce inappropriately trained to the needs of the economy. The authors are calling for the government, business sector, and education providers to work together to deliver STEM outcomes.

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