A survey: "What are employers' attitudes towards mathematical skills?"


Tuesday, 9th April 2013

Dr Chris Tisdell
, School of Mathematics and Statistics, UNSW.


 “What employment options will studying mathematics give me?” is a common question from prospective students at universities' Open Days / Courses and Careers Days. This question has motivated the present report, that measures employers' attitudes towards graduates who possess mathematical skills.

A diverse range of employers were surveyed, with their responses being unanimously positive towards graduates with mathematical abilities. The result emphatically illustrates that employers highly value job applicants with strong mathematical skills. 


The study was conducted by Dr Chris Tisdell at UNSW's Careers Expo 2013  http://www.careers.unsw.edu.au/Students/Meeting_The_Employers/Annual_Careers_Expo.chpx.  

Employers were represented from a diverse range of areas, such as:

  • engineering;
  • finance; 
  • education;
  • government;
  • consulting;
  • mining;
  • information technology.

 A full list of the 53 organisations who participated can be found at the end of this report.

The survey consisted of one question, namely:

We highly value strong mathematical skills when considering job applicants”,

with potential responses:

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Mildly agree
  • Mildly disagree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree.

“Mathematical skills” are the kinds of competencies acquired by students who complete mathematics courses and were listed on the survey to include:

  • numeracy;
  • problem-solving skills;
  • analytical ability;
  • logical + deductive reasoning;
  • creative thinking;
  • data management, modelling + interpretation;
  • programming / IT skills;
  • mathematical communication skills.

Key Results

In response to the statement “We highly value strong mathematical skills when considering job applicants”:

  • 100% of employers broadly agreed ;
  • 60% of employers “Strongly agreed”;
  • 36% of employers “Agreed”;
  • 4% of employers “Mildly agreed”;
  • 0% of employers “Mildly disagreed”;
  • 0% of employers “Disagreed”;
  • 0% of employers “Strongly disagreed”.

Thus, the employer-responses reflect attitudes that are unanimously positive towards graduates who possess mathematical skills. 

The results suggest that students who undertake mathematics at high-school and tertiary levels will be highly valued and in significant demand by employers across a range of fields.

List of Participants

Abergeldie Complex InfrastructureDefence Graduate OpportunitiesNational Australia Bank
Abigroup Contractors Pty LtdDixon AdvisoryNorman Disney & Young
AccentureDouglas PartnersNSW Treasury
AECOMEaton IndustriesPanit Software Testing
Aliom Trading AcademyExxonMobilPPB Advisory
Amadeus IT PacificFulton HoganQantas
ARRB Group LtdEclipse OptionsQGC - A BG Group Business
ASIOGeneral ElectricQuantium
ACT Public ServiceGolder AssociatesRio Tinto - Northparkes Mines
Australia and New Zealand Banking LimitedGrant Thornton Australia LimitedSAS
Australian Defence ForceHATCHSchnieder Electric
Australian Prudential Regulation AuthorityHSBCSydney Water
Australian Taxation OfficeIMC PacificTaylor Thompson Whitting
Bloomberg L.P.Institute of Chartered Accountants AustraliaTeach For Australia
Capgemini AustraliaInstitute of Public AccountantsTeach in NSW Public Schools
Cisco SystemsKBRTransGrid
CPA AustraliaKPMGWestpac Group
CSA Mine GlencoreMicrosoft Corporation