Australia will have to grapple with a shortfall of 1,700 engineers and 3,000 geoscientists over the next five years as the country is not producing enough engineering graduates to keep pace with its energy resources projects, GE Australia and New Zealand's industry skills development leader Stuart Manifold said Wednesday.
Manifold was speaking at the inaugural Australian Gas Technology Conference & Exhibition, running from July 25 to 27 at the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre.
Manifold said that the skilled manpower shortage problem is pressing as other energy resources industries, such as the mining sector, are also vying with the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector for engineering graduates.
Data from GE shows that Australian universities at present produce only 9,500 engineering graduates each year, as compared to the country's need for 20,000 engineering graduates per annum.
Manifold remarked that Australia needs to step up on its efforts to retain its engineering graduates as the engineering skills shortage issue is a global one. This means that emerging regions, such as Africa and Southeast Asia, with new LNG and mining projects will also be eyeing Australia's engineering talent.
Meanwhile, it is not just the emerging economies that are showing an interest in poaching Australia's engineers. Graying economies, such as Japan, are also on the lookout for young engineering talent, KPMG's migration services partner Jason Berry said.
Industry watchers said that oil and gas companies can explore the possibility of increasing engagement with young Aborginal students as a long-term solution to address their engineering manpower needs.
"Indigenous workers represent a talented and valuable resource that is sadly overlooked by many companies," said One People HR's co-founder Kevin Chandler.
Chandler's views are shared by Colntarf Foundation Graduate Employment's general manager Mark Skehan.
"A greater range of entry-level jobs, graduate programs and university cadetships would encourage more indigenous students to pursue a career in the gas industry," Skehan said.
Quintella Koh has reported on the upstream and downstream oil and petrochemicals markets from 2004. Email Quintella at firstname.lastname@example.org.