Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
The worrying state of maths in Australia: Let’s add it up; if fewer students are studying maths at high school and more jobs are needed in engineering, and specialist or advanced maths is essential as a pre-requisite to study these courses … Australia can look forward to the demise of engineering graduates altogether.

“Technology companies find it very difficult to find electronics and IT engineering graduates to fill the job vacancies in our industry,” Technology Industry Association CEO Steve Adcock said today in response to The Advertiser’s article on this topic yesterday. “If there are even less graduates to fill these skills gaps then our technology companies may move out of Australia all together and this will have a dire consequence for the Australian economy,” added Mr Adcock.

Only recently did the *Go8’s Review of Education in Mathematics, Data Science and Quantitative Disciplines reveal the drop of 15% in the number of students enrolled in a mathematics majors across Australian universities from 2001 to 2007. Also highlighted was that fewer students are studying Year 12 mathematics now then in previous years with the decline predicted to get worse every year.

An increasing demand for engineering staff means we need more high school students to be proficient in maths to study engineering at university and TAFE. Without a good knowledge of maths, students will fall behind at university or fail to qualify for university spots. Universities are already frustrated with the lack of maths knowledge of their students and are supplementing this by adding more maths bridging courses.

The changes in the new SACE system mean that students only have to choose 4 subjects, instead of 5 in year 12. This may encourage even more students to drop out of maths studies or choose softer options.

“Maths education needs to be formalised at primary school. If a child doesn’t have the basics by high school its too late,” said Mr Adcock. “If more isn’t done to make it mandatory and enjoyable to study maths each and every day in primary school – just as a starting point then everything else is a waste of time,” explained Mr Adcock.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that if you keep adding more and more subjects into the primary school curriculum then there will be less time spent on the basics – especially maths. For example, if as a nation we decided to dispense with languages, frequent excursions and music at primary schools there would be an immediate time benefit,” stated Mr Adcock.

“This is a crisis not just in South Australia but Australia wide and something needs to be done before its too late. The Association has a dedicated Skills Program that has been running since 2005 with a mandate to let teachers, students and parents know about the interesting, well paid and numerous jobs available in the South Australian technology industry,” explained Mr Adcock.

However, our Skills Manager is finding that each year there are fewer and fewer high school maths proficient students to embark on a technology industry related electronics or IT engineering tertiary course,” said Mr Adcock.

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Technology Industry Association

The Technology Industry Association (TIA) is the peak body in South Australia representing the $7.5 billion electronics, digital technology, telecommunications and ICT industry. TIA is a non-profit, member based organisation that delivers tailored networking events, professional development courses, business advice and lobbying opportunities.

Steve Adcock, CEO, TIA
P: 088272 5222
M: 0411 017 184


Technology, Maths



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