4250.0.55.005 - Perspectives on Education and Training: Australians with qualifications in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), 2010–11 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/02/2014  First Issue
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DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS

Women tend to be under-represented in STEM education and training in most countries around the world, and Australia is no exception (Marginson, et al., 2013). Of the 2.7 million people with higher level STEM qualifications in 2010-11, men accounted for around four-fifths (81%). This is in stark contrast to non-STEM fields, where women make up the majority (60%) of those with qualifications at the Certificate III level or above. The gender breakdown varied markedly across the STEM fields. Men made up the overwhelming majority (92%) of those with higher level qualifications in Engineering and related technologies, and the large bulk with qualifications in Information technology (75%). Around two-thirds (66%) of those qualified in Agriculture, environmental and related studies were men, while there was a fairly even split among those qualified in Natural and physical sciences.


STEM QUALIFIED POPULATION, BY SEX AND FIELD, 2010-11
Graph: shows that men made up a majority of people with STEM qualifications across each field, particularly in ERT and IT.

Source: ABS Survey of Learning and Work, 2010-11.


The gender breakdown of the STEM qualified population differed across qualification levels. Women made up 31% of those with university level STEM qualifications, compared with 12% of those with vocational level STEM qualifications.

The age profile of the STEM qualified population in Australia was slightly older than those qualified in other fields. The median age of those with higher level STEM qualifications in 2010-11 was 44 years, compared with 41 years for those qualified in other areas. Just under half (48%) of the STEM qualified population were aged 45 years and over, compared with 43% of those qualified in other fields. Again, however, there was considerable variation across the STEM fields.



    POPULATION WITH HIGHER LEVEL QUALIFICATIONS, BY AGE AND FIELD, 2010-11
Graph: shows that the age profile of people with STEM qualifications was older (i.e. more weighted towards the older age groups) than those with qualifications in non-STEM fields.

(a) Includes people with qualifications in both STEM and non-STEM fields.
Source: ABS Survey of Learning and Work, 2010-11.

Those with higher level qualifications in Information technology were considerably younger than those in other STEM fields. The median age of people qualified in Information technology was 33 years and the vast majority (81%) were aged under 45 years. Those qualified in Engineering and related technologies were considerably older, with a median age of 47 years and less than half (44%) aged under 45 years.



STEM QUALIFIED POPULATION, BY AGE AND FIELD, 2010–11
Natural and Physical Sciences
Information
Technology
Engineering
and Related
Technologies
Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies
Total STEM
Total
non-STEM(a)

Median age
(years)
42
33
47
41
44
41
Aged 15–44 years
(%)
55
81
44
59
52
57
Aged 45 years and over
(%)
45
19
56
41
48
43

(a) Includes people with qualifications in both STEM and non-STEM fields.
Source: ABS Survey of Learning and Work, 2010-11.




WHERE DO PEOPLE WITH STEM QUALIFICATIONS LIVE?

The distribution of the STEM qualified population across the states and territories closely reflects that of the general population. In 2010-11, around a third (34%) of those with higher level STEM qualification were living in New South Wales, and a quarter (24%) in Victoria.


STEM QUALIFIED AND TOTAL POPULATION, BY STATE AND TERRITORY OF USUAL RESIDENCE, 2010–11
% of STEM qualified population
% of total population (a)

New South Wales
33.8
32.6
Victoria
23.5
25.3
Queensland
18.4
19.9
South Australia
7.6
7.4
Western Australia
12.0
10.1
Tasmania
2.1
2.3
Northern Territory
0.7
0.7
Australian Capital Territory
1.9
1.6

(a) Aged 15 years and over.
Source: ABS Survey of Learning and Work, 2010-11.


The majority (70%) of those with higher level STEM qualifications lived in Major cities, with 21% living in Inner regional areas, and the remaining 9% in Outer regional or Remote areas. This was similar to the geographical distribution of the total Australian population aged 15 years and over. Across STEM fields, those qualified in Natural and physical sciences and Information technology were more likely to live in Major cities, while those qualified in Engineering and related technologies and particularly Agriculture, environmental and related studies were less so. Indeed, half (50%) of those with qualification in Agriculture, environmental and related studies lived outside major cities.

STEM QUALIFIED POPULATION, BY LOCATION AND FIELD, 2010-11

Graph: shows that the majority of people with STEM qualifications lived in Major cities. This was the case across each STEM field, except for AERS where half lived outside Major cities.

(a) Includes Inner regional, Outer regional and Remote areas.
Source: ABS Survey of Learning and Work, 2010-11.




COUNTRY OF BIRTH AND LANGUAGES SPOKEN

Around two-thirds (65%) of those with higher level STEM qualifications were born in Australia. People with STEM qualifications were more likely to be born overseas than those with qualifications in other fields (35% compared with 30%). The proportion born overseas varied across the STEM fields, from 14% of those qualified in the field of Agriculture, environmental and related studies, to half (49%) of those qualified in Information technology.


STEM QUALIFIED POPULATION, BY PLACE OF BIRTH AND FIELD, 2010–11
Natural and Physical Sciences
Information Technology
Engineering and Related
Technologies
Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies
Total STEM
Total non-STEM(a)

Born in Australia
(%)
56
51
67
86
65
70
Born overseas
(%)
44
49
33
14
35
30

(a) Includes people with qualifications in both STEM and non-STEM fields.
Source: ABS Survey of Learning and Work, 2010-11.

Of those with higher level STEM qualifications born outside Australia, around one in four (25%) were born in the United Kingdom, 10% in India and 7% in each of China and New Zealand. As with many other characteristics, the national heritage of the STEM qualified population differed across the STEM fields. Among those with qualifications in Information technology, for example, 22% of people born outside Australia had been born in India, compared with 14% born in the United Kingdom. While Australia’s STEM qualified population is drawn from a diverse range of countries, the vast majority (90%) were Australian citizens, including 71% of those born overseas.

This diverse heritage is also reflected in the languages spoken. Almost one in five (19%) of Australia’s STEM qualified population spoke a language other than English at home. This was much more common among those qualified in Information technology (32%) and Natural and physical sciences (29%), than Engineering and related technologies (16%). Almost all (94%) of those who spoke a language other than English at home indicated that they spoke English well or very well, and half (50%) reported that English was the main language spoken at home.

WHERE STEM QUALIFICATIONS WERE ATTAINED

Of the total STEM qualified population in Australia in 2010-11, around one in five (21%) had completed at least one higher level STEM qualification overseas.

Of those whose highest qualification was in STEM, 80% attained their highest STEM qualification in Australia, and the remaining 20% overseas. The proportion attained in Australia varied according to the field of study – from 92% of those whose highest qualification was in Agriculture, environmental and related studies, to 68% for Natural and physical sciences. The proportion also differed by the level of qualification with vocational level (84%) qualifications more likely than those at the university level (71%) to be attained in Australia.


PROPORTION OF HIGHEST STEM QUALIFICATIONS ATTAINED IN AUSTRALIA, BY FIELD, 2010-11

Graph: shows that the majority of people whose highest qualification was in STEM attained that qualification in Australia. This was the case across the STEM fields with the highest proportion in AERS.

Source: ABS Survey of Learning and Work, 2010-11.


Around 723,000 (27%) of those with higher level STEM qualifications were born overseas and came to Australia aged 15 years or over. Of this group, around three quarters (74%) completed at least one of their STEM qualifications overseas and 33% completed at least one of their STEM qualifications in Australia, including 7% who had completed STEM qualifications both in Australia and overseas. Of the 2 million people with STEM qualifications who were either born in Australia or arrived in Australia before the age of 15 years, only 2% completed a STEM qualification overseas.