• Major Road and Rail projects to face skills shortage – Roads Australia/Australian Railway Association

    Industry Insights by ECi Executive
    posted in Civil Infrastructure, Economy


Major Road and Rail projects to face skills shortage – Roads Australia/Australian Railway Association

In a joint submission to the Federal Parliament’s inquiry into skilled migration in March 2021, Roads Australia (RA) and the Australian Railway Association (ASA) has sent a request to include specialist skills critical to the delivery of major road and rail construction projects in the Priority Skilled Occupations List.

According to RA and ASA, these sectors will be impacted by the lack of access to skilled overseas workers and will impede the delivery of major transport infrastructure projects.

Road Australia CEO, Michael Kilgariff emphasized that governments rely on the delivery of transport infrastructure projects to stimulate post-Covid economic activity. He states that although they are willing to play their part, the delivery of such massive project pipelines face challenges from a shortage of skilled labour.

A survey of ARA members highlighted in the joint submission found 68 per cent of rail business relied on skilled overseas workers prior to the pandemic, with more than 60 per cent of businesses indicating these workers were critical to the delivery of high-value projects.

More than half of the survey respondents indicated they expected their demand for skilled overseas workers to increase over the next 12-18 months.

ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie said that the ongoing closure of Australia’s international borders has made it very difficult for industry to source some of the specialised skills that are needed on major transport infrastructure projects. And that Australia needs to be ready to attract skilled workers to support these projects once the borders reopen.

The current Priority Skilled Occupation List identifies 19 occupations considered as being critical skills to support Australia’s economic recovery. However, only construction project managers and mechanical engineers are relevant to the construction of railways and roads.

Wilkie highlighted the need for greater flexibility offered to the industry to secure skilled workers in order to realise the beneifts of these major infrastructure projects.

RA and the ARA say that while the injection of a further $10 billion worth of transport infrastructure projects in the 2021/22 Federal Budget is welcome, it also increases strain on the already limited skills pool.

Date of Publication: 01 June, 2021

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