A new study reveals a greater proportion of Kiwi students are completing qualifications in STEM-related subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), figures welcomed by Steven Joyce, Minister for tertiary education, skills and employment.
“It's important that we grow the number of graduates in areas where there is real industry demand,” says Joyce. “Producing more engineering, ICT and science graduates will help alleviate actual and potential skill shortages in these key areas.
The report, What did they do? The field of study of domestic graduates 2011-2014, outlines the field of study of all domestic graduates from the New Zealand tertiary education system.
According to the study, in Engineering and related technologies, the number of graduates at the bachelors level or higher reached over 2000 in one year for the first time in 2014, an increase of 21% from 2011.
In 2014, engineering graduates represented 4.8% of all graduates at the bachelors level or higher, an increase from 4.0% in 2011.
In the field of information technology, the number of graduates completing a qualification at the bachelors level or higher increased to 1550 in 2014, an increase of 29% from 2011. This represented 3.7% of graduates at the bachelors level or higher in 2014, an increase from 2.9% in 2011.
Natural and physical sciences also increased as a proportion of graduates at the bachelors level or higher, reaching 9.4% in 2014, up from 8.9% in 2011. The number of graduates completing a qualification at the bachelors level or higher in this field reached 3930 in 2014, an increase of 7.5% from 2011.
“The growth we are seeing is a good start but we need it to continue,” Joyce says.
“It is important that we continue to grow the number of students and graduates in these “maker” subjects, to fuel the growth in our tech sector,” he explains.
“We need to be as strong in engineering, physical sciences, and information technology as we are in our areas of traditional strength – the social sciences and the humanities.
“The Tertiary Education Strategy 2015-2019 set a target to prioritise getting industries the skills they needed, this shows that the sector is steadily delivering on that goal,” says Joyce.
Overall, the number of domestic students competing a qualification at a tertiary education provider reached 126,000 in 2014, an increase from 124,000 in 2011.
“Our tertiary education now is delivering around 5000 more degree graduates a year than when the government came into office in 2008,” Joyce adds. “That's a real boost in outcomes and a real boost in high level skills for New Zealand.