According to the latest data released by the Department of Employment, job vacancies for engineers in Australia have experienced 30 consecutive months of decline, starting from December 2011.

The department’s July 2014 Vacancies Report indicates that empty job spots for members of the engineering profession in June 2014 fell by 0.8 per cent in trend terms to 3,033. This figure is well below a quarter the number of employment opportunities available to engineers in December 2011, before the 30-month run of job declines began. At the end of 2011, Australia suffered from an acute engineering skills shortage, with over 13,000 job vacancies in the sector.

While total employment opportunities for engineers have fallen throughout Australia, the picture varies considerably from state to state, with NSW and the Northern Territory logging modest gains in the three months from April to June, and Tasmania seeing a surge in April and May, when job vacancies surged by more than six per cent.

engineering vacancy

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South Australia logged the biggest employment decline from April to June, with job vacancies for engineers falling by more than four per cent every month. Queensland and Western Australia also saw three months of consecutive negative growth during the April to June period.

NSW remains the state with the large number of vacancies with 1,017 in trend terms, or 33.5 per cent of the national total. Queensland comes in second with 664 vacancies, or 21.9 per cent of the total, followed by Western Australia and Victoria with 593 (19.6 per cent) and 557 (18.4 per cent) vacancies respectively.

The four states collectively account for 93.4 per cent of all engineering job vacancies throughout Australia.

This data from the Department of Employment is consistent with the findings from Engineers Australia’s Recruitment Difficulties Survey from earlier this year, which indicated that the proportion of employers struggling to source engineers had fallen to its lowest level in the eight years since figures have been released.

More than a third (34 per cent) of employers indicated that they had experienced difficulties on a very low base of vacancies, as compared with 53 per cent at the peak of the GFC, and more than three quarters of employers just prior to it.

Stephen Durkin

Stephen Durkin

Engineers Australia CEO Stephen Durkin said these dismal jobs figures exemplify the need for the country to exercise greater foresight with respect to infrastructure planning, in order to smooth out the highly cyclical nature of employment in the engineering sector.

“This trend of booms followed by busts is a direct result of Australia’s historical approach to infrastructure investment,” he said. “Engineers Australia strongly believes we need a long term, co-ordinated and planned approach rather than a fragmented, project-driven approach to deliver on the federal government’s ambitious infrastructure agenda.”

  • What plans does EA have to find an answer?

  • From the referenced article:
    "Engineers Australia CEO Stephen Durkin said these dismal jobs figures exemplify the need for the country to exercise greater foresight with respect to infrastructure planning, in order to smooth out the highly cyclical nature of employment in the engineering sector."

    I don't believe the privatization of natural monopolies helps achieve this goal. Neither does acquiring engineers from overseas during boom periods.

  • I agree with the comments by the EA CEO and also that mentioned above with the 457 visas. I'm keen to know now what happens to those on visas now that there is an excess of unemployed? Obviously not as simple as that as it depends on skill set fire certain jobs.

  • I wasn't specifically talking about 457 visas when I referred to "acquiring engineers from overseas", I was also referring to our skilled immigration program. I accept that apart from our indigenous Australians we are a country founded by migrants but we need to look to the employment future of our current citizens and their children. We need to have a longer term perspective when it comes to education and training with a focus on employability.

    How sole destroying is it for a young engineering graduate to have spent 4 years of hard study and accumulated a large HECS debt to find themselves on the dole queue. Are we training too many engineers at too many tertiary institutions because they have a bums on seats government funding model?

  • Which type of jobs specifically? What about mechanical engineering? Is there any future in this field?

  • I have to show my dissatisfaction with EA on this point.
    Since the start of the ongoing GFC, we have seen engineers being made redundant in droves, often in the hundreds in a day (large firms letting entire floors go at once!). We have also seen masses of engineers here, on the EA Linked In forum, saying how hard it is to find work. We've even seen new immigrants saying "where are these jobs we were promised when we made the commitment to uproot our families?!". And all the while, like Nero fiddling as Rome burnt, EA has been screaming 'Engineering Skills Shortage!!!". I notice that it is only in the last 3 months that EA is acknowledging this unprecedented decline in engineering in Australia. T

  • Thanks, Stephen.
    As a mature-aged student finally coming to the end of my degree, you're as comforting as a scream in the night! (LOL)
    I pray that you're wrong and that we will get to stay in Australia and do some good work too! (But unfortunately, I'm inclined to agree with you, at present.)

  • Since being out of work for one year as Project Engineer in mechanical field whihc was with pollution control last year. There was a decline in orders therefore no sales and a few of us had been redundant. I would have thought seeking a new job would be no problem considering I had been employed in various companies for 22 years with enough experience and education in 3D software, estimating, drafting, managing, but there still seems to be distrust in agents ans employers hiring. So what is the real problem? If you know of good job in Sydney only in the Project Engineer Management side then I appreciate it.
    There is an imbalance of actual statistics on the jobs available and education positions. If you have too many students educated in a f

  • The indusrty is going to suffer greatly when engineering demand picks up, there is going to be a significant skill gap soon enough that won't be filled with australian engineers who got junior. This isn't the first time there has been or will be an engineering skill gap in australia.

  • So this brings us back to my earlier point (circular motion).
    What is EA going to do to reassure us that they are not only reactive, but PROactive, so that this DOESN'T keep happening?
    Why does EA exist? If not to protect us from this weird cycle of work? We, as a group of individual engineers, need to feel that we can trust that the future will pan out sort of evenly in spite of the ups & downs in economy, industry, etc (not boom or bust). And for that we need a body of like minded people that looks forwards and interprets what will happen and makes the necessary preparations to avoid this. I feel as if EA is riding the horse backwards, saying "What did I miss?"
    I hope EA can reassure us that I'm wrong (with actions, not rhetoric!)

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