The ACT Budget 2022–23 prioritises knowledge-based economic growth with a $7 billion infrastructure investment pipeline for the next five years.
Engineers Australia’s ACT General Manager, Caitlin Buttress attended the Canberra Business Chamber’s Budget Lunch and Chief Minister’s address to decipher how the Budget performed against Engineers Australia’s pre-budget recommendations.
In our pre-budget submission, we advocated for the following:
- include all types of engineering on the Critical Skills List to support employment pathways for skilled migrant engineers
- a plan to increase teacher capability in STEM education
- to be consulted on the ACT engineering registration scheme, which is planned to be implemented in the next year.
“The main positive indication from the Budget announcement in relation to engineering is that it's clear government recognises the territory is in a state of growth and requires continuous investment,” Buttress says.
With job vacancies at all-time highs and unemployment at record lows, the ACT Budget highlighted that labour and skills shortages are expected to strain the territory’s economy.
“For skills I think there are some positives. Government have talked about skills quite a lot in this budget,” Buttress says.
While the Critical Skills List for ACT was not mentioned in the Budget announcement, Engineers Australia in Canberra, and across the country, will continue to advocate for the addition of all engineering skills on Critical Skills Lists. This will act as a short-term solution to the skills shortage.
“I would have liked to see STEM education highlighted in the Budget as well, because increased capabilities in these vital disciplines is critical for addressing skills shortages in the long term. This will come from investment in STEM, particularly women in STEM, and creating better partnerships between industry, government and education providers.”
The ACT Budget set out a $7 billion dollar allocation for its Infrastructure Investment Program to be rolled out in the next five years.
“There are big positives in this budget in terms of staying on track with population and economic growth. We do however need to have continued investment in infrastructure for at least the next 10 years to support that growth. A strong, transparent pipeline of infrastructure for at least the next decade will give industry confidence to attract more engineers to the ACT”, Buttress says.
“There is a focus on delivery for the community, but we still need to have more clarity around what that is going to look like, so we can make sure we have the skills to deliver that infrastructure for the ACT.”
While there was no direct mention of the ACT Engineer Registration Scheme in the Budget, Engineers Australia is working closely with government and understands it is still planned to be implemented within the next year.
“Registration is a key part of our current work at Engineers Australia. We will be working with government to make sure the scheme for the ACT works for government, industry and the community. We want Canberrans to feel confident in the abilities of the engineers operating in the territory and ensure there’s a legislative framework in place to protect against poor practice.,” Buttress says.
“We’d like to see the registration scheme work well with other jurisdictions. Enabling us to work towards automatic mutual recognition over borders.”
The Engineers Australia ACT team will continue to work on its strong program to support skilled migrant engineers, STEM education and registration.
“We’ve dialled up our STEM program in the ACT and have begun work with the ACT education directorate and our members to get more engineers into schools. This will help provide support to teachers to deliver STEM education and create clarity and excitement for students around careers in engineering,” Buttress says.
“Engineers Australia is also engaging with the ACT government on other programs of work under development, including the ACT Planning System Review and Reform. We are looking forward to seeing the district plans, which are due to be released soon, and we’ll be working closely with government and our counterpart institutions to ensure we’re delivering for industry and the community.”
You can read the full ACT Budget documents and explainers on the government’s website.