| 19 August 2022

Engineers Australia attends National Space Workforce Forum

Engineers Australia’s policy and advocacy team attended the National Forum on Space Workforce last week to discuss the future of the Australian space sector.

The forum brought together 100 stakeholders from across the civil space sector, ranging from large organisations, to space start ups and academics.

Across three sessions attendees discussed education and training; global talent; leadership and culture; diversity and inclusion; community outreach; industry led skilling; workforce planning and data insights; standards and entrepreneurship and business skills.

These discussions will feed into the Australian Jobs and Skills summit, held next month, to detail the employment needs of the space industry. Like all sectors of engineering the space industry is experiencing challenges in the employment of skilled workers which is expected to escalate as the sector grows.

Engineers Australia’s Policy and Advocacy General Manager Damian Ogden was invited to facilitate a panel focused on standards.

“Engineers Australia is creating a strong relationship with the newly formed Australian Space Agency (ASA). We want to work closely with the agency and the Minister for Industry and Science, Hon Ed Husic, to support the industry as it grows."

Attendees heard from the Head of the ASA Enrico Palermo on his vision for Australia's civil space sector.

“There are so many possibilities for space technology. Some of the ideas being developed included building devices that would help us to forecast extreme weather events and help to better facilitate disaster planning or detection of bushfires for example,” Ogden says.

At the forum, the Australian Space Agency outlined its forecast that Australia will need around space 900 new space engineers in the next 10 years to support the growth of the industry.

Peter Briggs, Engineers Australia’s Advisor to the Chief Engineer, says to help foster this pipeline Engineers Australia will need to continue our work on building an engineering identity and prominence in the minds of students.

Engineers Australia’s research shows Australia’s ability to develop engineers domestically is hindered by a reduction in year 12 science and mathematics participation. Our 2022 Skills Discussion paper states increasing take-up of STEM subjects and building awareness of the engineering profession early in a person’s education is critical to bolstering the pipeline of engineers.

“This is where the important work of our brand campaign, and social challenge ‘#IAmAnEngineer’ comes in. Our biggest opportunity is to promote the prospects of a career where you can really see the results of your work. I couldn’t think of more exciting projects than launching a rocket or developing a satellite,” Briggs says.  

Supporting students to pursue STEM subjects and to have a better understanding of the engineering workforce make up part of the medium- and long-term solutions to the engineering skills shortage.

Ogden says this ties into the work that Engineers Australia is doing to strengthen the engineering workforce.

“It also connects to the Jobs and Skills summit because the Australian Space Agency will present a paper, developed as a result of this conference at that event,” he says.

"We will continue to work collaboratively and constructively with those across the civil space sector to work on closing the skills gap and supporting the exciting innovations in space engineering across the country."

Engineers Australia will this week release a new workforce report detailing the initiatives needed to strengthen Australia’s engineering workforce over the next decade and beyond.