The Critical Engineering Skills Shortage in Australia
Posted: 16/07/2012 5:00:00 AM
Kyla Jones, Site Director, Mining Oil and Gas Jobs
Filed under: Job-seekers
The Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee released a report last week titled The shortage of engineering and related employment skills which focused attention on the shortage of engineering skills in Australia.
What is a skills shortage?
A skills shortage is determined in one of two ways:
- Recruitment - employers experiencing difficulty in recruiting a person for a specific vacancy
- Skills gap - existing employees not having the skills necessary for the position that they hold
The committee found both situations are currently present in Australia.
Stephen Durkin, CEO of Engineers Australia
“Over the past six years, more than one in 20 engineering projects did not proceed due to problems recruiting and retaining suitably qualified engineers,”
“Investing in engineering skills will pay long-term dividends. Even with Australian universities and TAFEs producing around 9,500 graduates annually, Australia is still unable to provide a reliable domestic solution to these key shortages.”
Demand for engineering skills growing
The report identified the resources industry as being one of four main drivers for an increase in the engineering skills. Other drivers named are defense, the National Broadband Network project, and other infrastructure projects. The result is the demand for engineering skills in Australia currently outstrips supply.
A graph from the report clearly shows what many employers in the Australian resources industry have been experiencing. Despite an increase in the number of engineering graduates over the past few years, engineering vacancies continue to be some of the hardest to fill.
Low participation rates for women
One area where an improvement could be made is by utilising women engineers more effectively. While the participation rate for women has increased slightly since 2006, female engineers only comprise 21.5 per cent of the total number of engineers employed in Australia.
The unemployment rate for female professional engineers is double when compared to their male counterparts. In addition, female engineers earn 8.5 per cent less than male engineers.
Solving the skills shortage
The government announced a cadetship program last year that will fund 265 engineering cadets a year over the next four years for students in higher degree studies. These cadetships involve both formal research during university years and practical work experiences in a business setting.
The Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
(DIISRTE) website contains a wide range of apprenticeship and training programs to help address the current skills shortage.
Addressing the engineering skills shortage is a key step to ensuring resources projects continue to develop. If you would like more information about becoming an engineer, visit the Engineers Australia website. You can also check out the Training and Development section of our Careers and Industry Guide.
Have you ever thought about becoming an engineer?
For more industry information:
Add your comment