Inspire : Public Works Sept Oct 2012
30 Public Works Professional September-October 2012 THOUGHT LEADERS CHRIS WALTON CEO, ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS, SCIENTISTS AND MANAGERS, AUSTRALIA (APESMA) AUSTRALIA IS IN A PRETTy UNIqUE ECoNoMIC position right now. Accordingly, we have the luxury of addressing the medium-ter m issues facing our nation, rather than getting bogged down by the recessions affecting much of the rest of the world. The key question for the Federal Government – and the Opposition -- is: what problem they are going to tackle as their highest priority? Thankfully a cross-party committee of senators had a good look at the impacts of the crisis of engineering skills and presented their report to the Government, giving them everything they could need to put this on the top of their agenda. The report found that Australia is suffering from a chronic lack of engineers that is holding back our economy and puts a fnancial burden on every Australian taxpayer. It is precisely the sort of thing that an innovative economy like Australia needs to address quickly to ensure we take advantage of the cur rent positive economic conditions and continue to protect ourselves from global economic uncertainty for decades to come. The report contained compelling and stunning facts. For example, Skills Australia advised the Taking the next steps According to Chris Walton, the release of the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee's Report on the engineering skills crisis is an opportunity for Australia's political parties to take action on this growing problem. Governments o en no longer have the technical capability to design, build, manage and maintain economic and community infrastructure. Government that Australia will need at least 37,000 more engineers before 2016. That’s right, in less than four years. Embar rassingly, it also found that governments often no longer have the technical capability to design, build, manage and maintain economic and community infrastructure, such as roads, railways, electricity and water networks. The report also detailed the ways in which Australia will be held back from such a lack of engineers. It might be obvious to many engineers, but the committee's report publicly admitted that taxpayers will have to pay more to deliver vital infrastructure projects, that more bottlenecks will occur and that job growth will be hampered. The report also stated that local governments are particularly under pressure, because they often have little ability to match the rapidly increasing wages on offer in the mining and resources sector. APESMA has been at the forefront of these issues, but until now Australian governments have simply failed to adequately address a problem that's been endemic for decades.
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