Skills shortage will get worse if Massey University shuts down engineering degree says ACE New Zealand

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The Association of Consulting and Engineering New Zealand says Massey University’s proposal to cut its engineering degree is a major blow for an industry desperate for sustainable solutions to alleviate New Zealand’s skills shortage.

ACE New Zealand Chief Executive Helen Davidson says a recent survey showed engineering firms across Aotearoa were struggling to recruit enough engineering graduates, as well as skilled professionals.

“If we don’t have a pipeline of skilled graduates coming out of our universities in New Zealand, where are we supposed to find them? We need a stream of top talent joining our workforce so we can deliver the vital infrastructure and technology that Aotearoa needs.

“Eighty percent of our member organisations reported vacancies in professional engineer roles, with an average of 5.5 vacancies per firm. And 66% of organisations reported vacancies in graduate engineer roles, with the average number of vacancies being 4.7. Only 60% of firms said these graduate roles were easy to fill.

“Engineering firms are experiencing real difficulty filling professional engineering roles and they’re having to recruit internationally while asking existing staff to plug the gaps.”  

The ACE New Zealand and Consulting Surveyors New Zealand Members Remuneration Survey collected data from 103 engineering and consulting firms in August this year.

Davidson says the data shows it’s become more difficult to fill vacancies since last year.

“Recruitment is getting harder. Just 12% of firms said vacancies were easy to fill this year, whereas last year 21% of firms said vacancies were easy to fill.”  

The survey also showed an increasing number of engineers were leaving New Zealand to take up opportunities overseas.   

Davidson says 13% of employees who left their jobs in the past 12 months were known to be heading overseas, up from 6% in 2022.

“We know the tertiary sector is under pressure right now to cut costs, but closing down an engineering degree will hurt our industry in the long-term.

“We need our tertiary institutes to invest in producing graduates who have the skills that our industry desperately needs.”

Source: ACE New Zealand

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