Engineers throughout Australia are enjoying a significant jobs boom as federal and state governments ramp up efforts to provide infrastructure to a growing population.

In its latest report looking at job market prospects for the first six months of the year, recruitment outfit Hays says it expects high levels of vacancy activity in engineering over the early part of 2019 amid a range of large scale transport and infrastructure projects.

It says skills shortages in Western Australia will intensify once Metronet kicks off along with other major mining projects.

Demand for talent will also be strong in New South Wales and Queensland – a phenomenon which results from new and current projects in the case of the former and population growth and land development in the case of the latter.

“It has been forecast that the infrastructure boom could last longer than the mining boom, with hundreds of projects around the country pushing up demand for engineering experts, and creating more engineering job opportunities,” Hays said in its report.

“The civil infrastructure market will experience a huge demand for talent this half. With 10 major rail projects valued at $1 billion or more under construction or proposed across Australia, supply will fail to meet demand.”

Around Australia demand for skilled engineers has been strong as federal and state governments ramp up investment in road and rail projects.

All up, the Commonwealth Government alone plans to spend $75 billion on transport developments over the next ten years.

Over the twelve months to September last year, ABS data suggests that the dollar value of work done on roads came in at a record $22.170 billion – up from $18.813 billion in the previous corresponding period.

On rail, activity surged from $49.201 billion in the year to September 2017 to a whopping $77.161 billion in the twelve months to September just passed.

Going forward, good times are expected to last.

In 2018/19, Australian Construction Industry Forum expects the dollar value of work done on bridges, railways and harbours to increase from $8.873 billion in 2017/18 to $12.161 billion in 2018/19 – up from less than $6 billion as recently as 2015/16.

By 2021/22., ACIF expects this to reach $14.487 billion.

In specific occupations, according to Hays:

  • Given vacancy activity across the country, demand will be high for Civil Engineersand Civil Drafters in response to the number of infrastructure projects underway. We are also seeing demand for candidates with highway project experience, although the need is greater for candidates with experience in greenfield and brownfield subdivisions who can work on developments around the major infrastructure projects in Sydney’s West.
  • Candidates with DRAINS, MUSIC and HEC-RAS experience are also in demand.
  • In Queensland, EngineersDraftersand 12D Designers with land development experience are in demand. Queensland’s urban development and subdivision market is growing strongly. Given planned large projects, and the continual movement of people to South East Queensland, firms are developing available land. This growth of land development projects will see these candidates remain in high demand.
  • Senior Civil Engineerswith NPER or CPEng accreditation are sought to oversee project design and sign off. In Queensland, companies are seeking those with RPEQ to sign off projects.
  • Civil Design Engineersare required for residential and commercial subdivisions and civil infrastructure design. Experience with Civil 3D software is as desirable as 12D software in NSW.
  • Demand from consultancies exists predominantly at the intermediate level for those with urban development and subdivision experience. 12D is being used more on highway projects than Civil 3D.
  • An increase in civil infrastructure across irrigation, utilities, water, wastewater, roads and bridges has created demand for Civil Project Managers. Employers look for chartered candidates.
  • Water Engineerswill be needed in both the public and private sectors. In NSW, successful candidates have Sydney Water accreditation. The exception is for Water Servicing Coordinators and Drafters. Candidates with experience working to Sydney Water standards and Section 73 are highly desirable to companies who look after projects in water, waste and sewage. In Western Australia, large projects are underway and have led to candidate movement. The state is also seeing a shortage of Water Engineers who specialise in mining projects.
  • Traffic Modellersare another area of demand for government related work. However, employers use one of many different software packages, including VISSIM, VISUM, SIDRA and EMME. Employers typically look for a candidate with relevant previous software experience and are willing to consider overseas candidates in the traffic and transport space.
  • Road and Traffic Engineersare sought to work on major infrastructure and transport upgrades. Given the high volume of projects, the supply of quality candidates fails to match demand. To be successful, candidates must be well versed in Australian traffic standards and have experience undertaking safety audits, traffic management and public transport planning.
  • In Queensland, Traffic Engineers with experience in development approvals are required.
  • Geotechnical Engineers at a senior level are sought by specialist ground engineering consultancies as well as multi-disciplinary national consultancies who have state-specific experience. Candidates with a mix of site based investigation experience as well as design experience on FLAC and Plaxis software are very desirable, especially if they’ve worked across infrastructure and residential developments.