A rash of large-scale transit infrastructure projects in Australia’s major cities has intensified demand for engineers, pushing their salaries higher by as much as 30 per cent.
Fairfax reports that junior engineers currently on salaries of around $100,000 are receiving offers of as high as $130,000 from construction groups competing for personnel needed to complete multi-billion dollar transit projects.
Major transportation projects currently in the works include the $15 billion WestConnex motorway project and $3 billion NorthConnex motorway in Sydney, as well as the $2.1 billion light railway line connecting the CBD and south-eastern suburbs.
Demand for engineers is expected to further intensify with the launch of other large-scale transit projects in sight, chief amongst them ambitious expansion plans for the metro systems of both Sydney and Melbourne, each of which are expected to cost around $11 billion as well as the Western Distributor tollroad in Melbourne, which is expected to cost as much as $5.5 billion.
BIS Shrapnel sees publicly funded engineering construction work increasing by 5.4 per cent during 2015-2016, and by a hefty 36 per cent in 2018-19, on the back of large-scale projects in both the telecommunications and transit spheres.
Local governments around Australia urgently need to upgrade and expand their existing infrastructure assets in order to alleviate the pressures created by ongoing population growth, particularly in major urban centres.
While the increased demand and pay rises created by this development frenzy are good news for the pockets and career prospects as of engineering professionals, industry bodies have criticised the lack of judicious planning on the part of government when it comes to nationwide infrastructure creation.
According to Stephen Durkin, CEO of Engineers Australia, the simultaneous launch of so many large-scale infrastructure projects will lead to cost blowouts as construction companies scramble for an insufficient pool of engineering talent.
Durkin notes that the last time Australia found itself facing a shortage of engineers relative to short-term development needs was just prior to the Global Financial Crisis, during which period project costs rose by 20 per cent.