Where’s the engineering skills shortage, Minister Dutton?
Every engineering profession should to be removed from the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) according to the national association for professional engineers which argues vested interests are falsifying a skills-shortage.
The Association of Professional Engineers Australia (APEA)’s submission to the annual review of the Skilled Occupations List cites 50 per cent higher unemployment rates among migrant engineers and record low job vacancies as evidence that the shortage is over.
“There is no evidence – and hasn’t been any evidence since 2013 – of any skills shortage across engineering, yet despite this lack of evidence Minister Dutton and the Department continue to list every engineering profession bar two as in shortage,” said Chris Walton, CEO of Professionals Australia.
“The end of the mining boom and the imminent departure of the automotive manufacturing industry has seen job opportunities dry up for engineers in many areas, yet the SOL has not been corrected to reflect the current state of the profession.
“There are fewer engineering job vacancies than ever before and foreign engineers are finding it twice as hard to get a job here. Further, the Department of Education and Training has for the last two years even flagged the removal of engineering professions from the SOL, but failed to act.
“At some point, Minister Dutton has to ask why then are other organisations advocating for engineering to remain on the list? And when he does, we urge him and the Department to look to our submission for answers,” said Mr Walton.
According to APEA’s submission, the reason engineering professions remain on the Skilled Occupations List is that there are many organisations benefiting by having access to a migrant engineering workforce.
“Our members have told us that they’re being shut out from the local job markets, as businesses are relying on short-term skilled migration to fill their workforce, which we know pushes down salaries and erodes employee entitlements while driving up profits for the employer,” said Mr Walton.
“The Government needs to stop listening to profit-maximising big business and also assessment authorities that are making money from assessment fees, and start listening to professional engineers.
“If the Government is serious about putting the current Australian workforce first, they need to do something definitive that will see these workers supported; removing engineering professions from the SOL will do this.”
An online campaign by Professionals Australia has seen over 1300 people sign up to support the campaign, with over 100 writing their own letters to the minster to have the profession removed.