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Skills and Capability5.2 Innovation Capability

5.2.1 R&D personnel by sector

Researchers and other R&D personnel constitute a vital input to R&D activity. In Australia, the number of R&D personnel in the business and higher education sectors have increased dramatically since the turn of the century, while their numbers in the government sector have declined over the same period. Business sector R&D personnel numbers nearly doubled, from around 35,900 in 2002 to nearly 75,000 in 2017. The rise in R&D personnel numbers in the higher education sector was more modest, but still significant (from 49,600 in 2002 to 79,000 in 2016). By contrast, the number of R&D personnel in government declined in the same period, from 18,500 to 14,800. Based on the OECD definition, R&D personnel include all persons employed directly in R&D activities, and comprises researchers, technicians and support staff. R&D personnel are represented in full-time equivalent units defined as the ratio of working hours actually spent on R&D during a specific reference period divided by the total number of hours worked in the same period by an individual or a group. In Australia, as well as in many other OECD countries, the business enterprise and higher education sectors are the leading employers of R&D personnel.[138][139]