Why is the Engineering market plagued with skills shortages?

The demand for skilled engineers across Australia is no new topic. In fact, according to the University of New South Wales, there are around 18,000 vacant engineering positions every single year.

As infrastructure projects continue to pop up throughout the country, this demand is significantly outgrowing the available supply of trained professionals.

"Demand from industry completely outstrips supply, and that demand is not slowing," explained Mark Hoffman, Dean of Engineering at UNSW. "In fact, it has doubled in the past decade."

The root causes of the skills shortage

The shortage of engineers in civil infrastructure can be boiled down to three root causes. The predominant catalyst is the increasing number of large infrastructure projects in major cities.

Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane are all seeing massive government investments in infrastructure. Whether it's road restructures or massive traffic tunnels, there are multi-billion dollar

This uptick has caused a considerable demand for engineering skills. According to The Urban Developer, there have been over 60,000 new jobs across Australia in areas like architecture and engineering over the past two years alone.

Massive projects such as Sydney's WestConnex - costing the NSW government $16.8 billion - will aim to decrease traffic congestion and better position the city to handle a rapidly growing population. However, the skills needed to complete these projects are much more complex than one many think.

It's about more than the labour to build the actual infrastructure - the planning and design require extremely niche knowledge and skill sets. The specialised nature of these positions fuels the shortage problem considerably.

Education also plays into the shortage equation. While demand is continuing to grow, there simply aren't enough uni students graduating with the degrees necessary to pursue engineering roles.

The demand for these roles is somewhat of a new narrative - growing considerably in the last three years. But as these projects come to fruition there will undoubtedly a focus on encouraging more college students to get involved in STEM subjects to match demand.

The last of the three major factors playing into the skills shortage is the rapid pace of technological advancements. There is a gap between the creation of new technologies and people's understanding of how they work. In essence, the evolution of various engineering tech is creating a bit of a bubble where workers are faced with systems they have yet to work with or learn about in past training.

The bottom line is that there simply aren't enough skilled professionals to respond to demand. When it comes to designing infrastructure, there are so many moving parts that require a deep understanding of very particular areas. As such, even slight increases in project sizes can cause considerable shortages in workers because there is such a small supply of skills in these areas.

What does this mean for jobseekers and businesses?

For jobseekers, this has some pretty straightforward implications. They are in high demand and this construction boom will allow professionals in these areas to seek out more competitive salaries at a variety of major firms.

In fact, we have noticed that contractor salaries have gone up by around 30 per cent in the last 8 months due to shortages. Local candidates are in a particularly great position. While international workers can fill vacancies, businesses tend to prefer local candidates with a deep understanding of local codes and regulations.

For businesses, the shortage presents a predicament. After winning major bids, these organisations need to find the right staff and fast - this is where Progressive Recruitment comes in.

How can we help?

During periods of increased demand, we can help your business find the right candidates to fill your vacant engineering positions.

The biggest advantage? We are a specialised recruitment company. We have access to a network of professionals that fit into the niche roles you need to complete your project, we work in tandem with your internal recruitment staff to fill the positions that aren't necessarily on your standard job seeking sites.

After winning a bid, contractors need to fill a whole bunch of positions fast. And poring through CVs and cover letters can take up a lot of valuable time. At Progressive Recruitment we aim to alleviate some of the pressure from our clients by tapping into our professional network to find the niche skill sets required for these infrastructure projects.

At Progressive Recruitment we pride ourselves on adding value to your existing recruitment practices. We lend a helping hand to make sure your project is sufficiently staffed and finished on time.

Interested in learning more? We'd love to talk more - contact Daniel Illingworth at [email protected] today!

Sources: Engineers Australia, Westconnext what could go wrong, Infrastructure Australia, The Urban Developer, UNSW Engineering