According to Engineers Australia’s analysis of the Jobs and Skills Australia Internet Vacancy Index data, Australia continues to face a shortage of engineering skills. This shortage has been further exacerbated by the rising costs of materials and the recent collapse of two major players in the industry, resulting in fewer contractors available to undertake the $237 billion national five-year pipeline of infrastructure projects. This has led to blown-out budgets and increased project delays, as the construction sector is already operating at full capacity. Infrastructure Australia forecasts that there will be a labour demand growth of 42,000 in 2023, resulting in a peak of 442,000, which is more than twice the projected available supply.
To address this issue, Engineers Australia’s CEO, Romilly Madew AO, believes that Australia needs to explore innovative approaches to build its engineering capability, including finding ways to support migrant engineers. Engineers Australia’s research has indicated that there is a significant group of migrant engineers already in Australia who face challenges in securing employment suitable for their experience. As a result, tapping into this latent supply could potentially alleviate some of the skills shortages.
KEY FINDINGS FROM THE JOBS AND SKILLS AUSTRALIA’S INTERNET VACANCY INDEX DATA
Throughout 2022, there were two distinct phases observed in engineering vacancies across states and territories in Australia. The first half of the year saw growth, while the second half plateaued or declined. Nationally, engineering vacancies increased by 22%, reaching a peak in July and then remaining stagnant by December.
Despite declines in the September and December quarters, all major states reported increased vacancies for the year. Among these, Queensland had the highest growth rate with a 44% increase, while New South Wales had the greatest number of engineering vacancies, followed by Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania. ACT was the top-performing territory.
Over the past two years, engineering vacancies have grown by 80% nationally, compared to the average of 42% for all Australian occupations.
The engineering profession has demonstrated resilience despite global economic uncertainty, buoyed by significant fiscal stimulus, particularly in transport infrastructure, renewable energies, and defence. However, the profession continues to face a critical shortage of engineering skills throughout Australia, as the demand for engineering expertise continues to outstrip supply. Although engineers have played a crucial role in several major stimulus projects from the Commonwealth Government, there seems to be no end in sight for the engineering skills shortage.