24 June 2008
Big plans for Australia’s infrastructure needs overseas engineers
Australia’s infrastructure is desperate for an upgrade, but the lack of engineers in the country is creating an obstacle, claims a report from the Citigroup.
The financial organisation estimates over the next ten years the Australian Government will need to provide $770 million to improve infrastructure, including railway lines and ports. The private sector will also be expected to contribute to the upgrade, to the tune of around $360 million.
Shane Lee, Director of Economic and Market Analysis at the Citigroup, says the infrastructural upgrade is a necessary investment for the country, but the lack of engineers will pose a major problem.
"Over a long period of time, we’ve reduced the number of kids going to university to study engineering. Now all of a sudden we’ve realised we should have been spending more money [on training for engineers] and we have started to, but it takes time for the labour market to catch up with that increase in demand", Mr Lee said.
According to the report, the rate of growth in the number of engineers in Australia has decreased since 2000 to 1.5 per cent over a five year period. Mr Lee says the Government now needs to concentrate on encouraging skilled workers to apply for an Australia visa to fill the current shortage in the labour market, rather than training for engineers.
The Minerals Council of Australia is also desperate for skilled workers; a recent report claims the mining industry of Australia will need an extra 90,000 skilled workers by 2020 to meet market demands.
Minerals Council Chief Executive Mitchell Hooke said, "The report found that more than half the growth in jobs will occur in Western Australia, Queensland’s minerals industry labour force will grow by 50 per cent and South Australia’s demand for mineral workers will more than double".
As it stands, the outdated infrastructure has been holding back the Australian economy and the country’s potential to export goods, claims the Sydney Morning Herald. For the country to maintain its economic momentum, it will need to continue its international campaign for skilled migrants to Australia. The Government has recently increased its quota for skilled migrants from 102,500 to 133,500 people per year.