In reaction to the Australian government’s newly proposed migration strategy and Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) Market Capacity Report, Engineers Australia’s CEO Romilly Madew has emphasised the need for a balanced migration policy that safeguards local workers’ interests while tapping into the extensive pool of skilled migrants.
Madew stressed the importance of a fair and equitable migration system aligning with Australia’s socio-economic goals amid rapid technological advancement and global connectivity.
Madew also praised the government’s efforts to streamline migration processes for highly skilled professionals and introduce a new visa for specialist skills, seeing these as positive steps toward enabling employers to access essential skills for growth and innovation.
However, she underscored the significance of supporting skilled migrant engineers already in Australia in finding stable and relevant employment.
The IA Market Capacity Report, focusing on ‘regional hotspots’ experiencing labour shortages due to increased infrastructure investment, presents an opportunity to integrate migration policies with regional development.
Madew sees this integration as a chance to stimulate local economies and enhance skill development.
Highlighting the potential of skilled migrant engineers in these regional areas, Madew pointed out that many qualified engineers remain underutilized.
For instance, in New South Wales Mid North Coast, despite having 1,836 qualified engineers, 35 per cent are not employed in engineering roles, indicating a potential for targeted migration and skill improvement.
Madew drew attention to the challenges faced by qualified migrant engineers in finding relevant employment, citing that in 2021, 47 per cent of qualified migrant engineers actively sought engineering jobs despite the skills shortfall.
The IA Market Capacity Report suggested Engineers Australia’s Global Engineering Talent (GET) program as a potential strategy to enhance the employability of migrant engineers qualified overseas.
Engineers Australia’s GET program, designed to address employment barriers for skilled migrant engineers, offers a comprehensive strategy to assist them in integrating into the Australian engineering workforce.
The program includes supporting and equipping migrant engineers with skills and knowledge relevant to the Australian engineering sector.
Madew urged the government to implement the GET program in regional hotspots, not only to fill job vacancies but also to contribute to building a resilient, diverse, and innovative engineering workforce crucial for Australia’s future.
The report highlighted concerning statistics, including over 20 per cent of Australia’s qualified engineers not being in the labour force, an expected retirement of up to 68,133 engineers over the next 15 years, and a retention problem with approximately 3,200 engineers leaving the profession annually.
The majority of Australia’s engineering workforce is born overseas, comprising 70 per cent of the growth in the engineering labour force from 2016 to 2021.
In conclusion, Madew stressed the need for a strategic approach to address these challenges and ensure a skilled and diverse engineering workforce to meet Australia’s future needs.
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