New report reveals deepening engineering skills crisis

Engineers Australia

Wednesday, 15 November, 2023

New report reveals deepening engineering skills crisis

Engineers Australia has today released the ‘Statistical Overview of the Engineering Profession’ report, shedding light on the concerning state of Australia’s engineering workforce.

Speaking at the Parliament House launch, Engineers Australia CEO Romilly Madew AO said the analysis highlights the important role engineers play in driving every sector of the economy while revealing a deepening engineering skills crisis.

“The report serves as a critical resource for policy and decision-makers, offering insights into the challenges and opportunities facing the Australian engineering landscape,” she said. “As the world continues to embrace technology and systems, becoming more sophisticated and interdependent, our economy and society are more reliant than ever on the engineering profession. This report reveals a growing gulf, with Australia sliding towards a ‘new normal’ of an economy hampered by an engineering skills shortage.

“The implications range from delays to nation-building projects, stifled productivity and low growth, to failing to reach our net zero goals and missing out on the next wave of wealth creation in eco-technology and innovation.

“Government, industry, the tertiary education sector and professional associations must act now, working together to overcome challenges and greenlight action.”

Key findings of the report show:

  • Engineers remain the backbone of Australia’s national capability: Australia relies on approximately half a million qualified engineers to tackle its most pressing challenges, from climate change to clean energy transition and complex infrastructure needs. Engineers are indispensable to the future of transport systems, sustainable cities and overall national resilience.
  • Skills crisis escalating: Australia’s engineering skills and labour shortage is at its highest level in over a decade, with the demand for engineering skills outpacing supply. Despite a significant increase in the number of qualified engineers between 2016 and 2021, demand outpaces supply, growing at three times the rate of the general workforce.
  • Critical sectors impacted: Several sectors, including defence, clean energy, power systems, construction, software engineering and more, are facing significant challenges in recruiting experienced engineers.
  • Urgent national attention needed: The report underscores the need for coordinated national efforts, focusing on increasing engineering graduates, retaining women in engineering, addressing the impending retirement cliff, removing barriers for migrant engineers and lifting the voice of engineering in the public sector to support practical decision-making.
  • Support for policy and decision-making: Engineers Australia’s research, data and analysis, combined with the expertise of its 122,000 members, are poised to assist governments and industries in rapidly developing a national strategy to meet Australia’s engineering needs.

For the first time, Engineers Australia has also introduced an interactive dashboard with the report that allows anyone to access and analyse the data at a local level, providing insights into the supply and demographics of engineers by industry in specific regions.

The interactive dashboard can be viewed here and the report can be downloaded here.


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