For many years it has been said that Australia lacks maths and science graduates. Maths teachers are in short supply we are told. Professor Ian Chubb, a chief scientist, certainly pushes this case.
Unfortunately, data does not support this premise. Like qualified information technology people, maths and science graduates find the job market difficult. It seems there is real demand only in geological science. A little more than half of graduates say their qualifications are relevant to their work. They hold down jobs only in distantly related fields.
One would think that with science and technology moving forward at a rapid pace such qualified people would be sorely needed. Employment in agricultural science is falling because young people are leaving rural towns and refuse to learn about farming. It is seen as glorified laboring.
Getting a post-graduate qualification does not help to find work. Employers see higher degrees as narrowing educational scope. Government is continuing to push universities to offer science and maths teaching despite labor demand falling. Places for teachers are available, but when first employed new teachers have to work for ten years or more in the bush before they can choose where they want to live.
Though historically Australian culture was based on bush life, today the young are urbanites. They love big cities and living near the ocean. The trend is for elderly grandparents to spend their last days in rural areas, while their offspring live it up on the coast. Maths and science, however, may not be the road to financial success.