Today’s release of the Victorian Opposition’s transport policy highlights the need to rebuild the State’s engineering skills base or risk billions of dollars of project blowouts and delays.
Victorian Director of Association of Professional Engineers Australia Bede Payne said there would need to be a strong investment in in-house engineering capacity no matter which party won next year’s state election.
“Only in-house engineers can manage the government's major transport projects like these to make sure taxpayers get value for money,” Mr Payne said.
“By pledging to create Infrastructure Victoria and Projects Victoria, Daniel Andrews has shown an interest in rebuilding Victoria’s engineering capacity.
“We call on both parties to now commit to producing an engineering workforce strategy to detail how they would recruit and retain the talented engineers they will need to deliver on their transport plans.”
Mr Payne said that Melbourne needed quick action to cut congestion and could not afford project blowouts or delays.
“Detailed research has shown that major infrastructure projects routinely blow out by 20 per cent if you don't have enough engineers to scope them properly,” Mr Payne said.
“In a state with scarce financial resources we need to get very best from our infrastructure spending.
“Any attempt to build major infrastructure without a proper engineering workforce strategy will cause projects to blow out.
“The Victorian Government no longer has enough skilled engineers to manage private sector contracts properly, frustrating private contractors and risking billions of dollars of wasted taxpayer money.”
Mr Payne said last year the Victorian Parliament's Public Accounts and Estimates Committee had produced a report into the effective delivery of infrastructure which revealed widespread concerns about the impact of its lack of engineering skills.
The report stated:
FINDING: A number of sources suggest that there are shortages of some skills in Victoria, especially in engineering and ICT.