Declining participation in post-compulsory science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, particularly ‘enabling sciences of physics and chemistry, and higher mathematics’ (Tytler 2007), is a cause of concern for government, industry and educators in Australia and internationally. Despite a labour market increasingly driven by, and reliant on, technology, many contend that Australia’s workforce is now facing general skills shortages in these areas which will only get worse over time. Underlying shortages of suitably qualified teachers of science and maths are also currently an area of particular focus. National and state governments are keen to understand the reasons behind this apparently broad decline in interest, with considerable attention focused on how to encourage more students to undertake these subjects throughout their school and post-school studies. The purpose of this research report is to provide policy-makers with information to assist understanding of the pathways students take from STEM school subjects to commencing postschool study of STEM, and whether this then translates into STEM occupations.
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