The construction sector is picking up the slack left by the demise of the mining boom for engineers in search of work opportunities.
While the Australian mining sector has seen a precipitous fall in recruitment levels for engineers, a rise in infrastructure activity is serving to compensate for this decline.
According to data compiled by the Clarius Group of recruitment companies, job advertisements for mining engineers plunged by 60 per cent in the mainstay mining states of Western Australia, NSW, Queensland and South Australia since the start of 2013, leading to an oversupply of 3,200 engineering professionals by the September Quarter.
The civil construction sector is picking up the slack left by the end of the peak phase of mining investment, however, as Tony Abbott attempts to make good on his promise to become Australia’s “infrastructure Prime Minister” during his time in office.
According to SouthTech, a division of the Clarius Group, the Abbott government is now seeking to draw private investment to major infrastructure projects via government guarantees.
Some of the major infrastructure projects currently in progress throughout the country include the northern freight corridor project in NSW, the $11.5 billion WestConnex project for widening the M4 motorway in western Sydney, the East-West Link freeway project in Melbourne, increases in freight capacity at Port Melbourne, and upgrades to the Bruce Highway and Pacific Motorway in Queensland.
SouthTech says that although demand for engineers is unlikely to be as strong as it was at the peak of the mining investment boom, these infrastructure activities are doing much to keep employment levels for the profession afloat.
Academics and industry figures previously reported that many fledgling engineers had encountered a rude shock upon graduating, with the slump in the mining sector leaving them with far fewer job opportunities than originally anticipated.
“It’s not as easy for graduates as it was a few years ago when four, five, six or even eight companies were all vying for one graduate,” said Megan Motto, CEO of engineering industry body Consult Australia.
Young engineers who expected the mining boom to give a boost to their early careers are now advised to focus on other sectors, such as civil engineering and construction, where their skills and expertise will enjoy greater demand in the near future.