Engineers Australia has today released the Statistical Overview of the Engineering Profession report, shedding light on the critical state of Australia's engineering workforce.
Speaking at the Parliament House launch today, Engineers Australia CEO Romilly Madew, said the analysis highlights the important role engineers play in driving every sector of the economy while revealing a deepening engineering skills crisis.
“The report serves as a critical resource for policy and decision-makers, offering insights into the challenges and opportunities facing the Australian engineering landscape,” Madew said.
“As the world continues to embrace technology and systems, becoming more sophisticated and interdependent, our economy and society are more reliant than ever on the engineering profession. This report reveals a growing gulf, with Australia sliding towards a ‘new norm” of an economy hampered by an engineering skills shortage.
“The implications range from delays to nation-building projects, stifled productivity, and low growth; failing to reach our net-zero goals and missing out on the next wave of wealth creation in eco-technology and innovation.”
Australia relies on approximately half a million qualified engineers to tackle its most pressing challenges, from climate change to clean energy transition and complex infrastructure needs.
However, Australia's engineering skills and labour shortage is at its highest level in over a decade, with the demand for engineering skills outpacing supply.
Despite a significant increase in the number of qualified engineers between 2016 and 2021, demand outpaces supply, growing at three times the rate of the general workforce.
The report underscores the need for coordinated national efforts, focusing on increasing engineering graduates, retaining women in engineering, addressing the impending retirement cliff, removing barriers for migrant engineers, and lifting the voice of engineering in the public sector to support practical decision-making.
The report found around 75 per cent of engineering students graduate within six years.
There is a five per cent attrition rate in the first year, with a further 20 per cent attrition over later years.
Only 17.7 per cent of engineering graduates are women.
The report found 16 per cent of qualified engineers in the workforce are women, with 76 per cent of them born overseas. Australian born women make up just 3.8 per cent of the total engineering qualified population in Australia.
At the current rate (2.4 per cent increase every five years), it will take 70.8 years for female engineers to reach equal representation in the profession.
Overseas-born engineers contributed to 70 per cent of the growth in the engineering labour force from 2016 to 2021.
Nearly 50 per cent of Australia's qualified engineers in the labour force are under 40 years of age, the report said.
For the first time, Engineers Australia has also introduced an interactive dashboard with the report that allows anyone to access and analyse the data at a local level, providing insights into the supply and demographics of engineers by industry in specific regions.