A shortage of civil engineers in Australia is threatening to derail major road and rail projects, an industry body has warned its government.
The problem is so severe that the Australian National Engineering Taskforce (ANET) has been awarded AUS $350,000 (£200,000) by the Ministry for Education and Employment to investigate the issue.
Professionals say that higher salaries in the mining sector, which is currently undergoing an investment surge, is a key factor in creating a shortage of engineers for infrastructure projects.
“The resources boom is drawing engineering professionals out of other infrastructure sectors, like roads and rail, leaving these industries with reduced capacity to provide and maintain vital community infrastructure,” said ANET director of planning and development Paul Davies.
Mining has “major impact”
Consultant engineers agreed that the mining sector has had a major impact. “If Chinese and Indian demand booms it impacts dramatically on resources, as mining pays a lot more than transport,” said Hyder Consulting Australia regional managing director Greg Steele.
The government funding will enable ANET to conduct two studies that will analyse supply and demand in key industries, detail issues hindering the sector, suggest changes for workforce development and identify and communicate solutions that are working well.
Another issue contributing to the shortage of transport engineers is uncertainty over funding. Several PPP schemes in the sector failed over the past five years when revenues failed to meet forecasts.
This has led to a lack of confidence in the future of some schemes.