Securing the Future of Australia’s Engineering Workforce is the first in a series of policy papers from the Group of Eight (Go8) in partnership with targeted external partners. (The Go8 comprises Australia’s consistently leading research-intensive universities with seven of its members ranked in the world top 100 universities).
The work behind the papers is aimed at ensuring Australia’s higher education sector is in a strong position to deliver what is required as the nation faces a series of significant workforce, economic and geopolitical challenges.
The first paper was developed out of the Go8’s Engineering Workforce Summit held in December 2021. It drew on the expertise of more than 60 representatives. They came from Go8 universities (which educate 42 per cent of engineering graduates), Engineers Australia and importantly, senior executives from industry, and they drafted recommendations to secure a domestic engineering workforce capable of meeting Australia’s future needs.
Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson said participants concluded that “the Australian model for the university education of engineers is broken and maintaining the status quo is simply not an option.”
“Australia’s demand for engineers is set to increase dramatically. The success of the government’s agenda which includes a nuclear submarine build, the Modern Manufacturing Strategy, the National Hydrogen Roadmap and the Australian Civil Space Strategy, is absolutely dependent upon increasing our domestic engineering workforce.
“Put starkly, unless this happens, none of those projects and policies can or will eventuate. Industry is telling us that we need to double the number of domestically educated engineers. There is absolutely no doubt that the Government’s Job Ready Graduate package, which cut funding by 16 percent has been a deterrent to increasing the supply of engineers – and that has not gone unnoticed by industry.
“The implementation of the three key recommendations in the engineering workforce report is therefore essential. They are critical for national success and to address one of Australia’s most significant challenges – workforce. Covid-19 has exposed our reliance on global talent and highlighted the need to strengthen our sovereign capacity to build a sustainable engineering workforce. That is the key to the nation’s economic recovery. “The Go8 is asking an incoming Government to act urgently to work with industry and universities to implement these recommendations. If it does so it can meet Australia’s future challenges. An enhanced engineering workforce is a “must have” for Australia’s economic future,” said Ms Thomson.