Engineering vacancies up 41 per cent from June 2021

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Engineering vacancies across all sectors increased 41 per cent from June 2021 to June 2022.

New analysis from the sector’s professional body also revealed that total vacancies are now at the highest levels in a decade.

Engineers Australia Romilly Madew said on Wednesday that part of the problem is that a significant cohort of migrant engineers already in Australia have difficulty securing employment appropriate to their experience.

“Tapping into this underutilised talent supply offers one immediate means of easing skills shortages,” Madew said.

“Our research found that employer bias associated with not being ‘local’- whether it’s experience, networks, standards, references, or qualifications- was the biggest culprit.

“Based on these and the report’s other findings we have developed a Pathways to Employment program that provides a road forward for increasing employment outcomes of our migrant and refugee engineers.”

It comes after the organisation’s Australia chief engineer, Jane MacMaster, said that with a high job vacancy rate, a looming emissions reduction deadline, and an economic recovery hinging on major infrastructure projects, the recruitment of engineers must be considered a “national strategic imperative”.

“Our economy and communities are more reliant on the engineering profession than ever before, and we need to ensure we have enough engineers to design solutions for society’s most complex problems,” MacMaster said.

“Without urgent action on the engineering skills shortage, we will see project costs and timelines blow out. And for critical endeavours such as the transition to net zero emissions and circular economies, we don’t have time to spare.”

MacMaster spoke to Australian Aviation last year, highlighting the issue of not enough women taking a career in engineering, despite girls enjoying STEM subjects in school. This has led, she argued, to a local workforce hugely reliant on migrants.

“About 58.5 per cent of the engineering workforce are skilled migrants in Australia,” said MacMaster. “We have relied for a very long time on them to make up our engineering workforce. The impact of border closures has been real.

“It’s been great in some sectors more than others. It hasn’t impacted defence, for example, because they’re less able to rely on skilled migrants because of their security clearance requirements, with citizenship and so forth.

“And while we should remember that this avenue, hopefully, will be available to us again, we also need to put a lot more effort into strengthening the pipeline of our domestically trained engineers.

“Because with all the engineering related initiatives in the pipeline, whether it’s advanced manufacturing, or our infrastructure pipeline, or innovation more broadly, it’s all going to require engineers.”

The full interview is available to subscribers here.

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