Daily Archives: January 18, 2012

The employment numbers for maths

In this morning’s Higher Education Supplement, Chief Scientist Ian Chubb was given prominent coverage for his marketing of maths courses (it was based on this speech). The HES reported:

“Unfortunately for Australia – though perhaps fortunately for you – demand in Australia for maths graduates has outstripped supply,” the professor told the gathering at the University of NSW.

It meant that every one of the 100 or so mostly honours students in the crowd should be able to get a good job on graduation.

But as I have pointed out before, there is reason to be sceptical about these claims. While not poor, work outcomes for male bachelor degree holders who majored in maths are nothing special.

And the Graduate Destination Survey, which investigates employment outcomes for recent bachelor degree graduates, finds in most years their full-time employment rate (as a % of those seeking FT employment) is below the average for all graduates.

I haven’t investigated outcomes for people with postgraduate maths qualifications. I expect that they might be better. But for undergraduates, a maths major is no guarantee of easily finding a good job.