Earlier this week Professionals Australia released an independent report, conducted by The Insight Centre, into Australia's growing crisis in engineering skills.

The report blames the predicted shortage on failures in the education pipeline for engineers, the underutilisation of qualified engineers in the workforce, and an extremely low participation rate of women in engineering.

A case study on the NSW engineering workforce within the report, also supports the need for the state government to take urgent action to address the declining engineering capacity of the public sector if it wishes to deliver on the $85.6 billion worth of infrastructure projects in the state allocated in expenditure by state and federal governments.

Additional key findings from the NSW case study include:

  • In 2021, the public sector engineering workforce plummeted to a record low share of just 13.2% of engineers working in NSW.
  • The wages cap for public sector workers in NSW has prevented the sector from attracting and retaining engineers.
  • Mandatory registration is necessary to protect the standards of engineering in NSW.
  • An ageing workforce is a critical challenge for NSW with nearly 30% of public sector engineers aged 50 and above.
The report is consistent with announcements made by the Federal Minister for Infrastructure last week.

In a National Press Club address last Wednesday (1 March), Ms King announced future projects may need to be delayed or else carefully prioritised, particularly given the massive skills shortage facing the construction sector.

“In September this year, the shortfall is due to peak at about 112,000 workers.”

“This shortage is particularly felt among engineers, surveyors, project managers and labourers.”

The skills shortage is a major issue for NSW and we need whichever party forms government after this months’ state election to take real action in addressing the shortage of qualified professional engineers.

Download the report here.