Strong technical skills are no longer a guarantee of employment for Australian engineers, with many employers now demanding ‘soft’ skills.
In its April-June 2017 quarterly report, recruitment agency Hays revealed the engineering employment trends that are emerging across Australia.
Overall, the report found there are a wealth of opportunities for engineers in Australia, with a pipeline of infrastructure projects creating a massive demand for civil and transport engineers in particular.
However, it also noted the growing emphasis being put on ‘soft’ or ‘enterprise’ skills such as communication, critical thinking and digital literacy.
The report found that employers in NSW are increasingly eager to hire candidates with these skills, making them more flexible in the types of candidates they consider.
“For example, we placed a British civil engineer who had no local experience but possessed strong interpersonal and communication skills and deals well with clients. Such softer skills are in short supply in the local market,” the report states.
This trend is also evident in Victoria, where, according to the report, there is a shortage of what employers consider ‘strong’ candidates across most engineering disciplines.
“Employers typically request engineers who have a sound technical knowledge and can consult and manage clients. As in other states around the country, candidates with skills in both these areas are rare,” the report states.
According to an analysis of 4.2 million job ads from 2012 to 2015 commissioned by the Foundation for Young Australians, employer demand for digital literacy went up over 200%, critical thinking over 150%, creativity over 60%, and presentation skills 25%. The research concluded the jobs of the future needed enterprise skills 70% more than the jobs of the past.
Demand and trends across the states
The report found that in NSW, a growing building construction industry is driving demand for civil engineers
who can provide related services, such as roads, pavements and stormwater.Civil engineers
are also in high demand in the urban development space; the report found this is due to “the sheer volume of urban work and shortage of people with the relevant subdivision experience”.Traffic and highway engineers
are also in demand, as Sydney’s roads become more and more congested.
“With so many roads in Sydney and regional NSW, both major and minor, being adjusted or designed from scratch, a shortage of highway engineers exists,” the report states.Civil 12d designers
are also in high demand in NSW (12d is a civil engineering, water engineering and land surveying software). According to Hays, given that 12d is an Australian software package, overseas candidates lack relevant experience and cannot be considered.
In Queensland, demand for engineers is being driven by infrastructure projects associated with the Gold Coast’s Commonwealth Games
and the upgrade of local government stormwater assets.
are sought on the Gold Coast, where the council has committed to upgrading all storm water infrastructure over the next five years,” the report found.
Registered professional engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) structural engineers
remain in demand. According to the report: "The commercial market is buoyant and Tier 1 consultancies need structural engineers with current RPEQs, recent commercial experience and exposure to large multi-storey structures."RPEQ civil engineers
are also highly sought after. Brisbane Council’s goal of creating an extra 220,000 homes over the next 20 years has led to a number subdivision projects, with more planned for the future. However, in the past many civil engineers made the move to mining, creating a shortage of candidates with residential experience.
In SA, senior civil engineers
remain in demand in response to the large number of road projects. Meanwhile,mid-level civil engineers
are also required to work on infrastructure projects.Senior structural engineers
and building services engineers
are also needed.
As in NSW,12d designers
are in high demand, but there’s a shortage of candidates with experience using this software.
The Victorian engineering sector is being buoyed by building services, with residential and commercial developments keeping the consultancy and contractor market busy. Civil subdivision
is also active thanks to the booming residential sector. Major road and highway projects continue to add to vacancy activity.Civil engineers with 12d software experience a
re still required to work on subdivisions in Victoria. There is a candidate shortage, with a particular gap at the three plus years of experience level.Licensed surveyors
are also needed. Due to Victoria’s strict regulations, there are only approximately 400 licensed candidates across the state. Due to activity in the residential market, this demand will continue.Building set out surveyors
are also in demand thanks to an increase in projects.Highways, bridge and tunnel engineers
are needed for infrastructure projects, as are individuals with Microstation and 12d experience.Revit drafters and modellers
are in demand to work on projects across the industry, from infrastructure to complex high-rise residential and commercial projects (Revit is building information modelling software). Additionally, senior building services and structural engineers
are needed due to the booming development market.
Looking to WA, experienced bridge engineers
are also sought to work on major infrastructure projects.Civil road engineers
are in demand, as the migration of experienced candidates interstate leading to what the report labelled “today’s dearth of talent in WA.”
“Due to the volume of work in the eastern states, many consultancies are still seconding their staff interstate and even hiring in Perth for interstate projects. As a result, we’re seeing skill shortages once more and, in turn, interest in niche overseas candidates,” the report states.
The report found there is also strong demand in WA for Revit drafters
of all disciplines.
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