The Federal Government has announced a record $50 billion nation-wide infrastructure build but industry body Consult Australia is warning that projects could be stalled as a result of skills shortages.
Up to 30 per cent of firms surveyed in Consult Australia’s 2014 Skills Survey identified a range of skills shortages especially in the field of engineering.
The annual survey covers 25,000 employees from firms that are charged with designing and delivering the nation’s infrastructure.
Consult Australia CEO Megan Motto said the biggest shortages are in civil, electrical, structural and transport engineering.
“These are areas where a robust and responsive skilled migration program will continue to be essential to support business competitiveness and future market demand,” she said.
“As new projects come to market, the impact of the significant contraction in industry capacity in recent years will be felt by governments as they seek to deliver projects against aggressive timelines.
“We are pleased to see governments now committing to more ambitious future infrastructure investment off the back of asset sales and leasing.”
Motto was referring to the government’s recently announced ‘productive infrastructure’ plans to kickstart the Australian economy.
Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Jamie Briggs, said federal funds alone will not be enough to address Australia’s infrastructure backlog.
“We need to be innovative in our policy settings to unlock private sector investment and increase contributions from state and territory governments which is why we are proposing a $5 billion Asset Recycling Initiative,” Briggs said.
Under this program, the government will provide incentive payments of 15 per cent of the sale price of privatised assets sold to state and territory governments, on the condition that the proceeds of such sales are reinvested in new productivity-enhancing infrastructure.
“We expect this initiative, along with our record investment, to generate $126 billion of investment across the country, adding about one per cent to GDP once the projects are completed,” Briggs said.
Infrastructure Australia is currently undertaking an audit of the country’s infrastructure needs and preparing a 15-year priority list which will be revised every five years.
“The priority list will provide investors and the construction industry with a higher degree of transparency and certainty,” Briggs said.
The Productivity Commission has just completed a review of infrastructure delivery and financing with Briggs confirming work will begin on implementing the Commission’s recommendations in coming months.