The State of Engineering Work in Australia

Engineers at an aerospace manufacturing facility in Australia.

Australia has experienced a shortage of engineering talent for more than a decade. With the economy’s uninterrupted march to prosperity since 1992, a corresponding infrastructure boom followed. And to drive infrastructure, engineers are needed.

Every year, about 18,000 engineering positions are available in the job market, but only 6,000 are filled-up by Australian engineering graduates. How then is the balance of 12,000 job openings met? About 75% of the remaining jobs are filled up by immigrant engineers with permanent visas, and the remaining 25% by those with temporary visas. In fact, about 57% of all engineers in Australia were born overseas.

This heavy reliance on foreign talent can be adversely affected by two factors: first, the continued global recovery from the 2008 financial crisis might convince less migrants to leave their home country; second, the changes to the 457 visa scheme might affect the influx of foreign-born talent, such as chemical, petroleum, materials and industrial engineers. From 2015 to 2016, there were 6,956 engineers that came to Australia via the 457 temporary visa.

An engineering crisis looms?

Given that the supply of foreign-born engineers might be hampered by macroeconomic factors, two more factors come into play. First, there is currently a boom in demand for engineers. Earlier this 2018, engineering job ads were up 63% due to aggressive infrastructure spending by the federal and state governments. Second, the number of STEM graduates, a natural precursor to an engineering degree, has been on a decline.

Emeritus Professor Mark Hackling, of the Edith Cowan Institute for Education Research, said in a 2015 interview that the percentage of STEM field graduates (omitting health) declined from 21.7 per cent in 2001 to 16.5 per cent of all graduates in 2011.

With the appetite for engineering talent growing significantly year-on-year, plus declining forecasts for both immigrant and local talent, a shortage in engineers can be expected in the coming years.

Offshore Remote Engineers

An option to help mitigate the shortage of engineering talent in Australia is to hire remote offshore engineers. Kinetic Innovative Staffing, based in Brisbane, offers one such alternative. Highly-skilled civil, mechanical and electrical engineers based in the Philippines, along with estimators and draftsmen, can complement any engineering team and reduce the pressure to add more talent, while posing significant cost savings.

According to Kinetic’s current numbers, engineers from their talent pool are averaging $32,000 per year, which is significantly less than what an Australian-based engineer would make (estimated to be $110,000 annually).

It is conceivable that rather than hiring additional engineers, teams of remote engineers can take over the work that needs to be done, and more, while even spending less out of the budget.

If you would like to know more about building up your engineering team, get in touch with us at Kinetic through here.

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