Inspire : Public Works Sept Oct 2012
coverstorY 20 Public Works Professional September-October 2012 Young iPWea In an effort to address the lopsided competition with the lucrative mining industry, a networking group, Young IPWEA, has been formed with the assistance of the association’s WA Division. Kim Sedgwick, 26, an asset management specialist with ARRB Group, took over the role as convener of the group in 2009. She says the group aims to harness the insights of the industry’s young professionals and develop ways to attract their peers and engineer ing students. It also serves as a forum for members to develop skills and contacts that are vital to success in their careers. “ There is a skills shortage in WA because most of the engineers have been swallowed up into the booming mining sector,” Sedgwick says. “Public works isn’t a well-known profession and the purpose of Young IPWEA is to educate young students and professionals to let them know there are other opportunities out there in addition to the high-profile jobs.” She concedes the group cannot compete with the recruitment campaigns being waged by the mining industry. Instead, she says Young IPWEA will be more of a word- of-mouth initiative designed to woo young professionals. “ The high-flyers and big industry are always going to win a recruitment contest,” Sedgwick admits. “We want to educate young people who are either in the industry or studying at TAFE or university and let them know there is an alternative to the private sector that will offer them a more sustainable career. “ We want people to look at Young IPWEA and say: ‘ Wow, that looks like a good brand to work with’. Why is Young IPWEA a good brand to work with? Because we are associated with stability, strong engineering practices and employment oppor tunities.” While it’s hard to quantify the achievements of Young IPWEA, Sedgwick describes the group – formerly known as Gundies – as “dynamic and determined” in their fight to ensure public works will not be a forgotten sector. “The six members of the Young IPWEA committee all come from different backgrounds,” she adds. “I am an asset manager, there is a traffic engineer, two civil engineers, a civil drafter and a policy manager who all bring something different to the table. “ We are all young and we are all enthusiastic about the public works profession. What’s important is we understand there are some people out there who are entering the profession and prefer not to be part of a fly-in, fly-out industry. They want and hope for a more stable family life.” While Young IPWEA’s focus is on engaging and retaining younger professionals, it also hosts seminars, networking dinners, training courses and technical tours designed to nurture industry connections within the sector. Although Sedgwick says the group is hopeful of achieving positive outcomes, their mission to engage young engineers would gain more momentum if Young IPWEA chapters sprouted up in each state. South Australia has implemented the Young IPWEA framework and Sedgwick hopes the remaining Australian states will follow suit. IPWEA National President and CEO of Campbelltown City Council, Paul Di Iulio, shares Sedgwick’s vision to introduce a national Young IPWEA body and highlight to young people that public works is a viable industry. He believes the benefits of implementing Young IPWEA at a national level are two-fold, saying, “As well as engaging with aspiring engineers about the benefits of pursuing a career in public works, Young IPWEA members are also being given the opportunity to become future leaders.” Di Iulio, who has dedicated 21 years to delivering public works to the Campbelltown community in Adelaide, says it makes sense to use peer-driven networks to promote the public works profession. “ Young people are better able to engage with their peers about the benefits of pursuing a career than a stereotypical grey-haired engineer,” he says. “I have gained a lot of satisfaction out of contributing to the community and delivering projects that people get worth and benefit from and that’s what we need our Young IPWEA members to shout about: that a career in the public works is rewarding and exciting. We also need to encourage our current professionals to remain in the industry rather than taking off to the mining sector.” @ there are some people out there who are entering the profession and prefer not to be part of a fly-in, fly-out industry.
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