No STEM-ing of growth for Aussie jobs

STEM occupations continue to grow, despite the labour market shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, between February 2015 and February 2020, employment in STEM occupations grew by 17.7%. This is 1.5 times faster than the growth rate in non-STEM jobs.

During the height of COVID-19, when economic activity was restricted from February to May 2020, employment in STEM occupations fell by just 1.9%. This is less than a third of the 7.0% decrease experienced in employment in non-STEM occupations.

Looking forward, analysis suggests that this trend may continue.

National Skills Commissioner Adam Boyton said, “the growth of STEM related skills is likely to provide a solid foundation for a successful career, with STEM occupations now sitting at 99.8% of their pre-COVID-19 levels”.

“The resilience of STEM occupations and the importance of these skills to the economy means there are likely to be better employment prospects in the short- to medium-term as we recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” Mr Boyton said.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, NSC analysis projected that, over the five years to May 2024, employment in STEM occupations would grow by 11.7% (or 301,500 people). This is compared with all other jobs that were projected to grow by 7.6% (or 761,700 people) over the same period.

Now that we have entered a post-COVID-19 recovery stage, the NSC has undertaken new analysis on occupational resilience. This new analysis has compared data on employment growth expectations before COVID-19, with data relating to the employment experience of occupations during COVID-19, and early indications of recovery to measure resilience and recovery.

The 92 STEM occupations have a higher skill level relative to all other jobs and 46.5% were considered to be resilient; compared with 31.8% of employment in non-STEM occupations.

Graph showing STEM occupational performance against non-STEM occupations

At August 2020, 75.0% (more than 2 million people) employed in STEM occupations worked in a job with a skill level equal to a bachelor degree or higher, compared with just 22.9% of people employed in non-STEM occupations.

Given the recent and projected future employment growth of STEM occupations, Mr Boyton encouraged anyone planning their next career move to consider building skills in STEM and to carefully research what skills and qualifications would be required.

The full list of STEM occupations is available on the NSC’s Labour Market Information Portal.