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Investigation into Australian civil engineer shortages

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.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Not a new story that Engineers in the construction industry in general are undervalued and underpaid.

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  • Chukwuka Wayemeru

    I second Paul's comment above. It is the sad truth and I don't see any changes to this trend in the near future.

    No matter how much we talk about it, we will remain undervalued and underpaid.

    The case in Australia, I bet, is just the beginning. There will be a mass exodus of Civil Engineers to other professions.

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  • I find the ICE salary survey forms quite easy to do - you just fill in pretty much the same number every year.

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  • A number of projects have been put "on hold" due to the uncertainty around the proposed resource super profits tax. That is no to say they weren't marginal to begin with.

    With the government's stimulus spending drying up the resource sector spending is urgently required to maintain the buoyancy in the Australian economy.

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  • Its perhaps worth pointing out that Engineers aren't underpaid and undervalued everywhere - plus it pays to remember that engineers work in a truly global market;

    www.engineeryourcareer.com

    coming soon!

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  • Local Government used to be a spawning ground for Civil Engineers, but training in local authorities has been decimated, since the role and importance of the Borough Engineer was virtually abolished. Now it appears that you only have to be a 'MANAGER' to run and operate engineering services, which is why you now have librarians/administrators/accountants running the service. None of them see the importance of training and the concept of succession planning has been abandoned and replaced with those on a 'fast-track' to CE posts.
    perhaps this is why the quality of infrastructure in the country is rapidly declining.

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