Due to market forces asking for faster delivery, very often we hear about skills shortages. A few years ago, it was mining, now it’s transport infrastructure. Other segments of economy may have less pronounced peaks and troughs.
Several measures are taken to mitigate the issue, i.e. lack of available engineering skills to meet the demands of the market. The Australian government invites overseas skilled professionals, then leaves them to fend for themselves when boom is over. Now we are marketing STEM to women, encouraging large group of the local population to join the effort on addressing imminent gaps, and as baby boomers are retiring and reducing the engineering pool faster than normal.
Another cause of the engineering skill shortage is a lack of fast development of skills during University graduate period. Instead of sending your graduates into the field and getting their hands dirty, we hobble them with reports and spreadsheets. This prolongs development of practical attitude in solving engineering problems. In turn, it increases costs and causes delays in delivering and implementing solutions.
How to ride boom and bust periods? It’s crucial that each engineer develops their long term vision, what they’ll contribute to humanity and society before they retire. Many organisations are not willing to invest in your career, besides imminent needs on projects or as a safety measure to keep production running, so make sure you join companies that are supportive of your vision and will assist to get you there. As you are the most important asset that you have, you are ultimately responsible! No outsourcing to a company will make your vision come true.
Outside of University there are practical skills required that STEM oriented courses do not teach. Communication skills are necessity now, as you must communicate more effectively in a modern workplace. Communication skills will also go a long way to being able to build a reputation in boom times and to promote yourself to employers during bust times.
Tony Palechek has over 20 years’ experience as a professional engineer and holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering an MBA and is PMP certified. He has worked in a diverse range of engineering, construction and consulting companies, providing project management and engineering solutions.
His specialities include: substations, power stations, HV and control gear, lightning protection, earthing systems, primary systems design, design verification and validation, EIS development, load flow, fault level protection settings studies.
The establishment of the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency in Adelaide to manage South Australia’s National Radioactive Waste Management Facility is1