Engineering a local skills shortage in Australia

The latest edition of The Good Careers Guide has been released and analysis by the Guide’s publisher, Good Education Group, has revealed there are some high-demand occupations lacking an adequate supply of graduates.

There is an engineer shortage in Australia and if the numbers are anything to go by, this won’t be changing anytime soon, with the number of students studying engineering courses remaining stagnant for close to two decades. In 2001, enrolments in engineering were sitting at 13,571, increasing to just 17,170 by 2017. This is despite predictions that every year there will be 5,600 new job openings for civil engineers alone.

Compare this significant job growth with physiotherapy, a profession currently listed with civil engineering on the Federal Government’s Labour Market Analysis of Skilled Occupations, and the story is rather different. In 2001, health courses ranked fourth overall (behind education, management and commerce, and society and culture) as the most popular field of study with just over 29,000 enrolments. Fast forward to 2017 and that number has increased by 63.2 per cent and is now placed second only to society and culture. In a nutshell, any shortage in physios looks likely to be short-term.

The same cannot be said for civil engineers, one of several engineering jobs, including engineering trades, surveyor and metal machinist, currently taking up space on the Skilled Occupations List. Since 2015, engineering vacancies have grown at a higher rate than the total Australian labour force, with civil engineering occupations driving the majority of growth.

National engineering occupation vacancies

Source: Engineering Vacancies Report, Engineering Australia, Apr’15-Apr’17

A recent report by Engineering Australia estimated that Australia has lost approximately $3.8 billion of productivity and accrued $3.9 million in avoidable recruitment costs due to lack of access to the right talent.

One factor that may be impacting this shortage is the significant underrepresentation of women in engineering circles. Despite the emphasis on promoting STEM to girls at the primary and secondary school level, analysis from gooduniversitiesguide.com.au revealed that in the last 12 months, females made up just 36.1 per cent of people searching civil engineering on the site. This then drops to just 13.1 per cent working within the industry.

Civil engineering by gender

Source: gooduniversitiesguide.com.au, Apr’18 – Mar’19
*Engineering and Related Technologies – Undergraduate and Postgraduate

Professor Euan Lindsay, Foundation Professor of Engineering at Charles Sturt University, believes the key to keeping up with the demand is to help society better understand the value of the engineering profession, and be more supportive about people entering it.

“Good engineering isn’t about cool toys; it’s about improving people’s lives,” says Lindsay.

“The young women who can succeed in engineering will succeed wherever they go; and while we keep talking only about the toys and not the impact, they will continue to choose another career where they can see the impact more clearly.”

This is supported by a recent study by MIT in the US which showed that women are far more likely to study engineering if they can see themselves achieving societal good through doing so.

Good Education Group CEO Chris Lester says it is scenarios like these that demonstrate the importance of readily-available career information resources.

“People must be able to easily identify industries that are projected to experience significant growth or lack thereof, as well as be able to visualise their future in the profession, in order to make an informed decision about their education choices and future prospects.”

Good Education Group’s latest resource, The Good Careers Guide 2019, will be launching on Monday 13 May 2019. Listing over 450 job descriptions and their skill and training requirements, as well as career advice and industry insights, the Guide will be available from selected newsagents and via www.goodeducationbookshop.com.

Visit www.goodcareersguide.com.au for more information.

View the new digital version of The Good Careers Guide 2019 via ebook.goodcareersguide.com.au.


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Media enquiries

Makayla Daglish
Head of Marketing | Good Education Group
+61 437 302 674 | makayla.daglish@goodeducation.com.au

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