Engineers are the people who convert ‘brilliant ideas’ into tangible goods, services and processes. They are indispensable contributors to Australian life and prosperity. Gathering high quality statistics about engineers and engineering is imperative to informing accurate labour market policy decisions. It also helps us measure whether there are enough engineers coming into the profession to maintain our present and future engineering capability.
Engineers Australia collects this data to aid in our policy and advocacy efforts on behalf of the profession and to inform the government and community. We source data about the engineering profession from various avenues including census data which is available every five years.
Australia’s engineering labour force is made up of both local and permanent and temporary skilled migrants. In the June 2019 edition of The Engineering Profession – a statistical overview, census data revealed that 58.5 per cent of engineers in the Australian labour force were born overseas.
There is currently a skills shortage of experienced engineers in Australia. Driving demand for engineers is ongoing investment in public infrastructure, a re-emergence of demand for minerals and a global transition to clean energy and adapting to climate change.
While experienced migrant engineers are critical to the workforce in the short-term, having a strong source of domestically trained engineers is crucial. Engineering skills – supply and demand – Discussion paper March 2022, notes only 8.2 per cent of graduates in Australia graduate with an engineering qualification. This is low compared to countries such as Germany at 24.2 per cent and Japan at 18.5 per cent.
The long-term solution involves investment in young people and schools, industry-led development of early career graduates and community-wide understanding of the value of skilled migrants.
Importance of STEM
This puts the focus strongly on the importance of fostering science, technology, engineering and mathematical skills (STEM) in young people. The Australian Government National Skills Commission reports employment in STEM occupations has grown 85 per cent since the 2000s and twice as fast as non-STEM occupations. They further report this is expected to grow by 12.9 per cent over the next five years.
The statistics also show that engineering graduates experience strong employment outcomes. According to the 2021 GOS National Report around 80 per cent of engineering graduates were in full time employment in 2020 and 2021. The same report noted engineering graduates are in the top five highest graduate salaries with a median salary of $70,000 for both male and female graduates.
Employer satisfaction with engineering graduates is also high. The QILT Employer Satisfaction Survey of 2021 reports employers had the highest overall satisfaction rate with engineering and related graduates at 90 per cent.
Engineers Australia is committed to promoting STEM skills to school age children and teens and our STEM strategy outlines the ways we’re doing this.
Women in STEM
Pleasingly, participation of women in the profession grew by 112.4 per cent between 2006 and 2016. Although the proportion of women in the profession remains relatively small at 13.6 per cent in 2016, University Statistics for Engineering 2020 reports that women commencing engineering courses has increased to 18 per cent.
Visit our policy and advocacy page to learn more about how statistics help inform our work.