Engineering salary inflation flows from the bottom to the top

Ashton, who started in February 2020 with a lower salary package than his predecessor Andrew Wood, received a total payout of $4.16 million in fiscal 2022, including a $1.6 million cash bonus, versus the $3 million from the previous year.

Worley shares have performed well under Ashton, rising around 18 per cent, but the company has also benefited from growing demand for engineering services.

Pay rises ‘higher than usual’

Worley declined to comment on the exact size of the pay increases that were given to engineers he employed in Australia. He said pay rises were “slightly higher than usual” and mostly in line with industry escalation rates.

“However, there are some larger increases in pockets, and particularly in areas of lower demand,” a company spokesman said.

Monadelphous, a smaller Perth-based engineering group that is also doing well, paid its chief executive Rob Velletri a fixed salary of $1 million in fiscal 2022, up from $915,243 a year earlier when executives took over. temporary pay cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. .

Mr. Velletri’s total pay, including bonuses and stock options, increased to $1.54 million in the last 12 months from $1.16 million a year earlier.

To entice workers to stay with the company, Monadelphous, which has been forced to be more selective in bidding for new projects due to a shortage of workers, has initiated an employee retention plan by issuing share rights that are granted for three years.

Arup’s Ms West, who is attending the national jobs summit in Canberra, said the group was dealing with “shortages on all fronts”, adding that the fact that only 12 per cent of Australia’s engineers were women contributed to the scarcity.

Shortage of critical skills

It was particularly difficult to find decarbonisation experts, materials scientists and environmental engineers – the kind of people critical to helping Australia build projects that will help the nation reach its goal of net-zero emissions, Ms West said.

“The global demand for the engineering (and other skills) required to enable the transition to net zero will intensify significantly in the coming years as the world faces the reality of the need for faster action to decarbonize economies.”

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that people working in the construction industry received an average wage increase of 3.4 per cent in the 12 months to June. The most recent employment and pay report from the Association of Professional Engineers of Australia, published last year, forecast that engineers would receive a 1.6 per cent pay rise in 2021-22.

Romilly Madew, the former chief executive of Infrastructure Australia who now runs Engineers Australia, said company bosses had been giving raises above those levels to recruit or retain engineers. “There’s such a war for engineering talent, it’s very competitive,” she said.

The “acute” shortage is due both to the low number of engineers graduating from universities (only half of the students who start engineering study finish their studies) and to the difficulty many immigrants with engineering degrees have in getting jobs. Madew said.

The engineering shortage that existed before the pandemic was exacerbated by Australia’s border closures at the same time as demand is rising due to a large portfolio of complex infrastructure projects, including clean energy projects.

Engineering Australia’s analysis of job vacancies compiled by the National Skills Commission showed there has been a 176 per cent increase in engineering vacancies nationally in the two years to June 2022, to 6,681 vacancies. It also showed that vacancies are the highest since the end of 2012.

The industry group’s most recent report on skills shortages, released in August, has outlined dozens of recommendations, including promoting science, technology, engineering and math courses in schools and encouraging students to consider jobs. as technologists and engineering associates (which require less education). and training than engineers, who take traditional four-year courses).

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