While engineering job vacancies across all Australian states have exploded in numbers over the past two years, it is Queensland that has the highest demand for Civil Engineers.
Skill shortages in Queensland
Following strong growth of 4.4 per cent in 2021–22, the Queensland economy is forecast to grow by a further 2 per cent in 2022–23, and strengthen to 3 per cent growth in both 2023–24 and 2024–25.
Queensland’s labour market has been exceptionally strong, with the unemployment rate near decade lows, the job vacancy rate near its historic high and the employment-to-population ratio around its highest level in more than a decade.
Jobs Queensland’s fourth Anticipating Future Skills five-year employment projects total employment in Queensland of close to 3 million by 2025-26, an increase of 207,000 new jobs.
The four fastest-growing regions are Wide Bay (13.6%); Sunshine Coast (12.5%); Townsville (12.0%) and Central Queensland (11.5%).
The new data shows Queensland’s four fastest-growing industries are Health Care and Social Assistance (16.4%); Professional Scientific and Technical Services (12.6%); Accommodation and Food Services (10.0%); and Education and Training (9.9%).
Jobs and Skills Australia surveys at least 1000 employers each month to find out about their experience when recruiting staff as well as whether they are expecting to increase staffing levels. This feedback provides insights about labour market conditions and helps in developing resources designed to help job seekers understand what employers are looking for.
At 56%, Queensland had the highest proportion of employers recruiting, however, this was 4 percentage points lower than in the previous March 2023 quarter. At 50%, Western Australia was the second-highest recruiting state in the quarter.
New South Wales (48%) and Tasmania (43%) both had the sharpest decreases in quarterly recruitment activity and the lowest quarterly recruitment rate, with the recruitment rate in New South Wales declining by 9 percentage points over the quarter, and falling by 7 percentage points in Tasmania.
In the June quarter of 2023, as shown in Figure 6 below, Construction had the second-highest recruitment difficulty rate at 70%.
The proportion of employers expecting to increase staffing levels in the next 3 months declined for
all reportable industries except for Construction, which was steady (see Figure 10).
Why Queensland needs more Engineers
The major projects pipeline in Queensland continues to grow and in the five years between 2022/23 and 2026/27 inclusive, the major projects pipeline is valued at $71.3b (Source: QMCA).
In July 2021, Brisbane and Queensland were also chosen as the host of the 2032 Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee. Queensland will host the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games over four weeks (29 days) with the Olympic Games hosted from 23 July to 8 August 2032 and the Paralympic Games to be hosted from 24 August to 5 September 2032.
The Queensland and Federal Governments have announced $7b funding for the 2032 Games. $2.7 billion will go towards the redevelopment of the Gabba while $2.5 billion will be spent on the development of the Brisbane Arena. Sixteen new or upgraded venues will receive close to $1.87 billion in co-funding on a 50/50 basis between the two governments. This funding is additional to Queensland’s record major projects pipeline.
For this incredible pipeline of work to be delivered, Queensland will need to address critical issues, one of them being the lack of a suitable workforce. According to the latest report by Engineers Australia, Queensland has seen the biggest jump in civil engineering vacancies with 41% increase in 2022.
Queensland’s population is growing
New figures show that South East Queensland’s population will increase from 3.8 million to 6 million by 2046, which is 2.2 million more South East Queenslanders. The population is growing, but it is also changing. Over the next 25 years the number of older people aged 65 years or older will increase. The number of one-person households will increase substantially from 23.4 per cent in 2021 to 40.5 per cent in 2046.
“We are in our decade of opportunity. We have a strong economy. We have a 10-year pipeline of infrastructure projects in the lead up to and beyond Brisbane 2032. And we are creating good, secure jobs in the key industries that will help us decarbonise,” says Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles.
“Thanks to all of this, and our great Queensland lifestyle, we’ve seen record levels of net interstate migration and now increasing international immigration,” says Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles.
“Investment in infrastructure is also vital to support growth. That’s why the Queensland Government has committed to a record $88.7 billion four-year state-wide building program, including the $20.3 billion Big Build capital investment announced in this year’s State Budget,” says Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles.
The Growth projections have been confirmed ahead of the release of the State Government’s updated draft SEQ Regional Plan. Updating the plan was an outcome of the Housing Summit.
Over the next decade, population growth in Queensland will comprise 30% from natural growth, with 30% growth from internal arrivals and 40% from international migration.
International migration accounts for people who arrive from overseas to call Queensland home. After taking a dip when borders closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Queensland’s international migration levels are set to average 27,000 people per year over the next decade.
Interstate migration counts people who have arrived from other states. Queensland saw an influx of interstate migration during the pandemic, as people from the southern states chose to call Queensland home, and will see a steady flow of interstate migration over the next decade.
Brisbane City will see an increase of 457,000 people between 2021 and 2046, while the City of Gold Coast will add 381,200 people over the same period of time. Huge population growth is also predicted for Ipswich (an increase of 294,700 people), Logan (an increase of 311,300 people), and Moreton Bay (an increase of 302,600 people).
Is Queensland doing enough to plug the skill gaps?
According to the latest report by Infrastructure Australia, in 2023, the lack of a skilled workforce will be the single biggest issue faced by construction companies in Australia. Queensland might struggle to find the talent it needs.
According to Alan Patching, Professor of Construction and Project Management at Bond University and who was Project Director for the design and delivery of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Stadium, Queensland risks falling behind on Olympic infrastructure.
“In recent weeks we’ve heard from Construction Skills Queensland and Hutchinson Builders expressing their concerns about how the state would deliver key Olympic projects alongside renewable energy and transport infrastructure amid a massive skills shortage.”
“That aligns with our recent research at Bond University, which found two-thirds of senior construction industry experts surveyed said Queensland’s progress on Olympic infrastructure planning and delivery was unacceptable.”
“We surveyed a cohort of senior engineers, architects, project managers, urban planners, contractors, quantity surveyors and others who service the construction and infrastructure industries. Around 60 per cent of the anonymous respondents were managing directors or directors, with the remaining third holding ‘C’ suite or other senior positions.”
“The majority of participants either strongly agreed or agreed that lack of accommodation and associated infrastructure remained a major concern regarding the Games, exacerbated by a shortage of construction professionals and tradespeople, combined with an inability to house incoming workers.” (Source: Bond University: “Queensland risks falling behind on Olympic infrastructure” by Prof Alan Patching).
While the engineering sector is experiencing nationwide skills and workforce shortages, little is being done to help migrant Engineers from OMESC (Other Than Mainly Speaking English Countries) backgrounds to fully utilize their skills and qualifications.
Although Queensland is on the hunt for skilled engineers, there is no official support program that prepares migrant Engineers to join the Australian workforce. It’s unlikely that the recently published guide Attracting and Retaining Engineers from Migrant Backgrounds: A Guide for Employers will improve the situation.
Are you a Civil Engineer moving to Queensland?
Are you moving to Queensland soon? Would you like to find out more about the current job opportunities we have? Visit our Vacancies page to apply directly and follow us on LinkedIn for upcoming job opportunities for Civil Engineers, Construction Professionals, and Surveyors.
Source: © The State of Queensland 2023
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