“Infrastructure Australia’s market capacity report highlights the need for change within a sector that is at breaking-point.
“Implementing reforms that overcome flaws in project planning, procurement, and capability is long overdue. This requires commitment and collaboration from federal, state and territory governments through application of risk management practices, a mature approach to project governance and procurement, and funding for infrastructure investments.
“The Clough Group collapse is a sad example of the challenges the sector is facing. Unfair allocation of risk is leading to a lose-lose scenario. Frameworks are needed to manage risk across the value chain and to ensure appropriate allocation and reporting. As the [Market Capacity] report states, time pressures are reducing the risk discovery stage, which is leading to contractors assuming an increased, and often unsustainable, level of risk.
“Understanding the skills needed to realise Australia’s pipeline of projects is critical in allowing evidence-based policy initiatives to alleviate the challenges.
“There are over 433,000 qualified engineers in Australia’s labour force, and still, engineers, scientists and architects are considered ‘acutely’ scarce. Increasing the pool of engineers is critical if these projects are to be completed.
“Job vacancies in engineering alone have risen by 176 per cent in the past two years and notwithstanding the fact the majority of Australia’s engineering labour force is born overseas, our research shows that almost half of migrants already in the country that are actively seeking work as an engineer are currently under or unemployed.
“Only 14 per cent of women are working in engineering occupations in Australia. We must harness the engineering skills of 100 per cent of our population - and not just the male half - if we are to make any inroad toward meeting Australia’s urgent need for more qualified engineers.
“Australia’s recently legislated emissions reduction targets will require Australia’s governments and regulators to give due consideration and prioritisation to carbon emissions abatement within the infrastructure sector.
“Pleasingly, the Market Capacity Report reinforces the recommendation to build support for the circular economy. With the report identifying 27 per cent of conventional materials used for road projects could be replaced with recycled materials, this presents an opportunity to not only expand local supply but also help the sector achieve critical reductions in emissions."
Engineers Australia CEO Romilly Madew AO
0468 366 691