Economy

Engineering skills crisis to double in next three years

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New research from peak engineers lobby group Engineers Australia has confirmed the sector’s worst fears – the shortage of engineers is getting worse and there is no end in sight.

New research from peak engineers lobby group Engineers Australia has confirmed the sector’s worst fears – the shortage of engineers is getting worse and there is no end in sight.

Analysis of cnsus data has revealed that the total number of engineers dropped by about 6500 between 2001 and 2006. It is estimated there are around 242,000 engineers in Australia, with universities and TAFEs producing around 9000 new engineers each year.

But according to Engineers Australia chief Peter Taylor, the number of graduates is not enough to replenish the stocks of ageing engineers. “During the five years to the 2011 cnsus, we estimate that 70,000 engineering professionals will have retired. At current rates, the expected 45,000 graduates will not even cover the losses over the same period. It is possible that current professional engineering skills shortages will double by 2011.”

As SmartCompany reported in its special engineering Industry Growth List feature in May, most engineering firms say their growth plans are being stymied by a lack of skilled staff.

Taylor says the numbers are “unnerving for Australia’s future” given the boom in infrastructure spending forecast in the next decade. He wants urgent action to provide a long-term fix to the problem.

“The current strategy of bridging the widening gap between Australia’s engineering capacity and needs by relying on short-term fixes like skilled migration and visitor programs, is becoming less viable as more and more countries soak-up any spare capacity for engineering skills across the world.

“Australia needs a national strategy and plan for delivering an Australian engineering team that will deliver the critical innovation and capacity necessary for current and long-term prosperity.”

 

Read more on the engineering sector, skills shortage and s457 visas

 

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