Latest News

Job market for engineers reshapes as parts of the economy slow

The market for engineers is reshaping as mining requirements transition from construction to production and the rush for higher pays in the West turns into a chase for fool’s gold, according to the latest Clarius Skills Index.

The Clarius Skills Index showed a persistent shortage of 4,500 engineering professionals over the December quarter with the sector remaining in ‘Extreme’ shortage.

However the Index did soften slightly for the profession, down from 104.9 to 103.4.

Paul Barbaro, Executive General Manager of SouthTech, a division of the Clarius Group of recruitment companies said anecdotal evidence suggests the West is losing its lustre as professionals pack their bags and head home to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

“Salaries being offered in the West have sometimes outstripped those on the East Coast by between 20 per cent and 40 per cent but WA’s rising cost of living has more than made up for the gap,” he said.

“Engineers who are flexible and mobile in their lifestyle are usually the ones drawn to the West, including those with young families. But the cost of living and the absence of friends and support structures is making them rethink their move.”

Barbaro said while supply and demand for various engineering skills fluctuates, depending on project requirements, engineers who can sell project capabilities are increasingly in demand.

“Experienced sales engineers who can go in and sell engineering concepts and develop new ways of building certain parts of projects are sort after,” he said. 

“And when projects are put to tender, engineers able to speak in detail on how they would go about building it are in demand.”

The other significant shortages are for field service engineers specialising in large rotary equipment.

The Index indicates the profession is seeing a return to work of mature aged engineers.

“There are two reasons for this. Mature, experienced engineers who might have retired have seen their superannuation packages shrink in recent years and they are capitalising on the exit of younger, more mobile engineers who have head west to WA,” Barbaro said.

“In fact, there’s a bigger number of mature aged engineers looking to work than there are younger engineers coming into the sector.”

On the flip side, architects and construction engineers have not been in high demand lately because of the stalled economy.

Barbaro said two major construction companies in Sydney have basically shut down recruitment as they’re not seeing any projects on the horizon.

However, the very accommodative monetary policy currently in place should continue to support housing market conditions and provide a boost for residential construction activity in NSW.

The Index also predicts permanent roles for engineers will become more prevalent over contract roles.

“In the past, companies employed engineers on fixed-term contracts for six or 12 months, or two years.  Now, with a persistence shortage of professionals, those same companies are securing permanent staff to lock in their talent pool for the long haul,” Barbaro said.

Send this to a friend