In Focus

The engineering skill shortage

Why are we so short of engineers?

A lack of young Aussies entering the profession has been exacerbated by COVID border closures stopping migrants coming in. Adam Thorn investigates.

Australia’s engineering industry is world-leading but has been hit by a long-term lack of young people entering the profession, with declining rates of school students taking up STEM subjects. The problem is particularly acute for women: the latest research shows less than 6 per cent of girls nationally studied physics in year 12, with advanced maths numbers just as poor at 6.2 per cent for girls and 11.5 per cent for boys.

For a long time, the only solution to this problem was for our businesses to import talent from abroad, with nearly 60 per cent of those in the profession born overseas. But COVID border closures have all but stopped this practice, leaving many businesses struggling to find the best people. Here, we talk to some of the key players on the frontline to examine the issue and find out how we can encourage the next generation of Aussies to get involved in the profession.

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