Australia must address significant skills gaps in engineering and public works if we are to meet long-term infrastructure needs, a leading public sector engineering lobby group says.
In its submission to the Infrastructure Australia Audit of 2019, the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) said sustainable outcomes for infrastructure service provision depend on several things.
This includes effective management of likely developments and unexpected shocks, robust asset management strategies and clear expectations for asset management and long-term financial planning.
It called on the Commonwealth to develop and maintain an asset management framework across all levels of government, promote sound asset management principles and audit long-term asset management and financial plans.
Moreover, IPWEA talks of a need to address significant skills shortages, particularly within local government.
Drawing on data from a 2018 survey conducted by the Australian Local Government Authority, it said 70 percent of all local governments in Australia face a skills shortages in areas such as engineering, town planning, building certification, environmental health and project management.
In Engineering specifically, IPWEA points to further research conducted by the NSW Division of Engineers Australia which showed that more than half of qualified engineers are over 50 yet only half of councils actively support cadetship programs.
It said strategies needed include organisational assessments of workforce needs and risks, registration of engineers and local government cadetship and traineeship programs.
In its 2019 audit of Australian infrastructure, Infrastructure Australia said governments had made impressive progress to address infrastructure gaps but added that a new wave of reform and investment was needed to meet long-term demand.
It called for submissions on its 2019 audit to help shape its 2021 infrastructure plan.