Office of Australia’s Chief Scientist, Executive Officer of the National Science and Technology Council (2021) Canberra AU
Rapid Response Information Report 1 July 2021
Space Industry and the STEM workforce
What are the growth areas in domestic STEM skills to support jobs in the space industry, and how can these be addressed by the tertiary (university and relevant VET) sector?
Through significant growth in the number of people with scientific, engineering and technical skills, Australia can develop, operate and support space systems and meet the Australian Government’s goal through the creation of 20,000 new jobs in the space sector over the next decade. Skills in human factors, including cognition, performance, decision-making, governance frameworks, law, regulation and ethics, and engaging with space technology and its applications, will also be beneficial. Of the 319 skills used in the space industry in Australia, a recent survey found that all but nine are experiencing some level of shortage. Current tertiary education approaches are to concentrate on producing graduates with a wide range of generic but transferable STEM skills, rather than space-specific skills, and may provide a mechanism to meet current skill shortages. Skill shortages are affecting the space industry globally and represent potential growth areas for Australia as a provider of skills training. 10-15 university-based specialist training centres focused on space skill development are emerging. Skills development also occurs in the public sector through targeted defence and strategic capability building. Most specialist skills training is performed on the job in the industry locally or overseas. To deliver 20,000 new space-related jobs by 2030, around 300 new qualified scientists and 900 engineers, as well as 800 non-STEM graduates, are required to be trained each year for a decade. Australia has a solid base for space research in universities, public research agencies and private institutions, which can help supply the industry with a skilled workforce. Engaging education and training providers in workforce and training planning can assist in addressing the needs of the space industry.
Lead Expert: Emeritus Professor Fred Menk. Contributors: Dr Sarah Baker, Dr Brett Biddington AM, Dr Rowena Christiansen, Dr Jaqueline Craig AM FTSE, Associate Professor Alice Gorman FSA, Professor Anna Moore. Peer reviewers: Professor Hans Bachor FAA, Professor Ron Ekers AO FAA FRS, Robert Hollow, Professor Saeid Nahavandi FTSE, Professor Dianne Nicol FAHMS, Associate Professor Sarah Jane Pell, Professor Michele Trenti, Associate Professor Cathryn Trott, Dr Peter Woodgate.
Rapid Response Information (RRI) Reports are prepared on behalf of the National Science and Technology Council (the Council) to deliver timely responses on specific questions raised by the Australian Government. Introduced as part of the Council’s refreshed Terms of Reference, the reports provide a more responsive mechanism for Ministers to access science and technology advice in a consistent and policy relevant manner. The production of this rapid research report was supported by staff of the Australian Academy of Science: Dr Stuart Barrow, Lauren Sullivan, Chris Anderson, and Anna-Maria Arabia. Edited by Robyn Diamond and Dr Christiane Gerblinger. The Australian Academy of Science acknowledges the advice provided by the team at the Australian Space Agency.