Physics Graduates in the Workforce: Does Physics Education Help?

Australian Institute of Physics
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Australian Institute of Physics, 18th National Congress, 2008, pp. 143 - 146
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In the first half of 2008 a survey was distributed to a sample of Australian physics graduates. The main purpose was to provide a realistic and up-to date view of where a Physics degree can lead, based on the experiences and perspectives of physics graduates in the workforce. The survey was the product of the Working Party on Physics Graduates in the Workforce, part of a project funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC). Responses were received from 171 graduates of physics or physics-related COurses (i.e. degree programs), both undergraduate and postgraduate. A small number of employers also responded to a version of the survey. A clear majority of graduates recommended a major in Physics as good preparation for their career, but they also highlighted aspects where physics education could be improved. Employers were less convinced of the unique qualities of physics courses. Both graduates and employers agreed that, while undergraduate physics clearly develops problem solving skills, communication and planning skills and awareness of ethical and social issues are given low priority at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
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