A LACK of essential mathematical, science and technology skills in workers is holding Australia's productivity back, a survey of more than 500 employers has found.
The Australian Industry Group survey found businesses were having difficulty finding trade workers and technicians with adequate science, technology, engineering and maths skills.
It found 41% of employers were having trouble finding such workers, with 27% facing difficulty recruiting adequate professionals and 26% of managers.
The national employer group the workforce was "holding back Australian employers in their quest to be more innovative, productive and competitive".
AIG chief executive Innes Willox said the lack of skills needed to be addressed through improvements to school and tertiary education, including a government proposal to create semester-long work placements for new graduates.
Mr Willox said a national working group including employers, skills experts and the Office of the Chief Scientist should be tasked with creating a framework to lift such skills.
"(These) skills are essential for the future economic and social well-being of the nation with an estimated 75% of the fastest growing occupations requiring STEM skills and knowledge," he said.
"Despite this, enrolments and the number of graduates with STEM qualifications continue to decline. This is a major concern for industry."
- Employers are having increasing difficulty recruiting employees with STEM skills.
- More than 4 in 10 (41%) respondents reported difficulties recruiting technicians and trade workers with STEM skills.
- More than a quarter of businesses reported difficulties recruiting professionals (27%) and managers (26%) with STEM skills.
- 44% of manufacturers, 39% of construction business, 35% of service sector businesses all reported difficulties recruiting technicians and trade workers with STEM skills.
- In the mining industry, 37.5% of businesses reported difficulties recruiting professional occupations with STEM skills.
- All of these occupations with STEM skills shortages are at the higher end of the qualifications spectrum.
- Large enterprises had more trouble than small enterprises in recruiting employees with STEM skills.
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