Engineering Connection | Deepika Phadke

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You were previously working on the Future Submarine Project before the contract ended. It's a tough situation, but what advice would you give people who find themselves in a similar position?

Sometimes the best laid plans don't work out. I definitely don't regret joining the program, because I've had the chance to work with a fantastic Franco-Australian team on engineering topics that I like. I'd recommend always picking a big headline research or acquisition project for your job, because then even if it all comes to an end, it'll do so with lots of publicity and you won't struggle to find a new job afterwards. 

Alternatively, get a permanent contract with a long-standing consultancy with a good culture and you'll never be out of work, because they're always in demand.

How did you find out about the project, and what avenues do you use when searching for roles?

Make use of the information out there! 

For me, I'm always on the lookout for a technical role, but of course, I want to earn good money and move into a leadership position in the years to come. So, if this is your plan too, then you need to be smart about what jobs you take and what roles you pick within the various companies. If the company sees that you have an understanding of economic or technology strategy, then you'll likely be given different types of opportunities to other engineers. Also, it's a bit tricky to find really cool long-term engineering opportunities in Australia, so you need to do a bit of digging. 

Our government publishes a few documents which I find really helpful for finding out about the key players and growing industries in Australia. I found out about the Future Submarine Program by reading the Defence Industry Policy Statement and the Defence Strategic Update.

Obviously it was on the news too and my colleagues would talk about it all the time. But it's better to read the big documents like these because they provide good case studies of the type of work being conducted and detailed information on which companies are currently doing what major pieces of work. From this, you can work out which projects sound interesting to you.

More importantly, in my opinion, you can also find out what stage the projects are at. This allows you to determine if they're currently doing the sort of work you're interested in. For example, you might want to get testing experience, but if the project has only just started, there may be no point working on it just yet. Documents like this will give you an idea of the timeframes for each project and then you can match these up with your plans.

Before I decided to work on submarines, I was also interested in working in the energy industry. The Australian Energy Regulator's report, State of the Energy Market, describes the market structure and is very helpful for planning a direction to take in the energy market. 

I also find it useful to look up government and large company innovation awards recipients. From this you can find out the small, up-and-coming companies and apply to them for the more niche and highly technical roles. 

Why would you recommend searching for jobs overseas or even interstate?

In order to make good decisions and become more open minded, you've got to take a chance and get out of your comfort zone. The first couple of months is always a bit hard, but the friends I've made and the jobs I've been able to secure interstate and overseas were well worth it. Also (and this is a bit annoying, but mostly true) in my experience it's easier to get a better job back home once you've gone away and come back. 

You've worked on a lot of interesting projects including European wind turbine design projects and the engineering aspect of the Australian space and weapons testing policy. What fascinates you most with jobs like these?

I studied engineering at university because I wanted to create, make and fix things. That's why I'm always picking and pushing to work on design, analysis and research projects. It was also easy to see how these projects were useful to my community, so that was extra incentive to work on them. 

Plugging our drastic engineering skills shortage – a migrant solution

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Australia is in the grip of an engineer shortage, yet first-of-its-kind research commissioned by Engineers Australia shows a ready-made workforce is being overlooked.

Findings from the Barriers to employment for skilled migrant engineers (PDF) study reveals that despite migrants accounting for almost two thirds of qualified engineers in Australia, many struggle to find work in the sector and others are underemployed in junior roles despite being highly skilled.

Engineers Australia CEO Dr Bronwyn Evans AM says it’s an alarming imbalance and the effective use of all available engineers should be considered a national strategic imperative.

“Australia has an engineering skills shortage exacerbated by COVID-19, an engineering job vacancy rate that has gone up 97 per cent in just 12 months, and an economic recovery hinging on major infrastructure projects.

“This research shows that 47 per cent of our qualified migrant engineers are unemployed and they can’t crack the Australian jobs market at a time when employers are reporting skills shortages.

“These are skilled engineers driving taxis and delivering takeaway. “This report clearly shows industry bias, a lack of a local networks and pathways to securing work as the biggest barriers to migrant engineers finding employment.”

Engineers Australia commissioned an independent research group to survey more than 800 migrant engineers and conduct in-depth interviews with employers and recruiters as part of the report and as a way to address the imbalance.

Amongst the findings – one of the biggest barriers to employment for migrant engineers was employer bias associated with not being “local” – whether it’s experience, networks, standards, references, or qualifications.

“Migrant engineers report their international experience is simply not valued in Australia. Many lose faith in the job-seeking process and fall away from the profession as a result,” Dr Evans said. Engineers Australia recognises the importance of improving pathways into the profession for migrant engineers and is consulting with industry on a pilot program that will enable them to draw on the existing talent pool.

‘We absolutely value the importance of getting this right from a personal, professional and national perspective. Productive employment of migrant engineers is vital to our national engineering capability and unless changes are made our future economic growth is at risk.”

“We want to work with employers to co-design solutions, because they will only be successful if employers embrace them.”

Key findings

  • 47% Of migrants actively seeking a job as an engineer are currently unemployed.
  • With migrant engineers trying to find an engineering role struggling to get a job at all, those employed in a non-engineering role turning to industries like construction (14%) and professional services (12%).
  • Humanitarian visa holders are even less likely to be employed as engineers in Australia, with only 29% currently employed compared to 57% of skilled visa holders.
  • One in three migrant engineers feel that, based on their experience, they should be in a more senior role.
  • 35% Those who believe they’re employed at the right level, and 62% of those who believe they are underemployed, say their international experience isn’t valued.
  • One in three migrant engineers say they bring specific skills and knowledge to employers, while a similar number say their unique perspective is a benefit.
  • Recruiters interviewed say, many Australian companies have not only unconscious, but also active conscious biases towards hiring migrant engineers.
  • Employers aren’t invested in fixing the profession’s skills supply issue. They don’t take a long-term, whole-of-profession, strategic perspective.
  • Employers don’t know enough about the pool of migrant engineers to consider them a solution. It is not seen as a collective talent pool that they can access easily.
  • There are seven specific barriers to hiring migrant:
  1. A lack of local knowledge and experience
  2. Perceived cultural differences in soft skills
  3. Visa or sponsorship working rights issues
  4. A lack of people who can ‘vouch’ for them locally
  5. Certification queries
  6. ‘Flight risk’ concerns
  7. Tendency to hire ‘networks’ at senior-level roles
  • Migrant engineers can be utlised as a skills shortage solution by addressing the following:
  1. Position migrant engineers as a collective talent pool and talk to the size of the opportunity for employers
  2. Provide credible, trusted information on employment pathways for migrant engineers
  3. Increase local networks by developing networking and sponsorship programs/opportunities for migrant engineers
  4. 5.Coordinate initiatives to build local knowledge and experience of migrant engineers
  5. Assist humanitarian visa holders with credentials assessment
  6. ‘Make it easy’ for employers to access the talent pool.

Media enquiries

Lisa McKoy, National Media Manager
[email protected]

Cross state partnership to develop next-generation water treatment technology

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The project, funded by the consortium members, will run over three years. Engineers and scientists will investigate the treatment of nitrate and heavy metals, uranium and arsenic, by applying electro-chemical technology to drive oxidation and reduction reactions.

Remote water supply systems are challenging to maintain, with logistics issues causing restricted access to equipment, chemicals, qualified personnel and delaying emergency response times.

The development of this new water treatment technology, which will be specifically designed for remote water supply systems, will drive viable advanced water treatment solutions that can overcome challenges in an economically sustainable way.

This new technology is anticipated to overcome some of the common barriers to practical application in regional communities, such as low efficiency (recovery rates), high operational costs and significant waste streams.

Developing reliable water supply systems that are simple to operate and maintain has the potential to create more robust operations for regional communities with reduce failures and improve efficiency rates.

Power and Water Corporation (NT) and Water Corporation (WA) will lead the research project. Two pilot systems will run at operational sites in the NT and WA to test and improve the process in real field conditions while monitoring and optimising performance.

Two PhD students will also be engaged as part of a scholarship to conduct fundamental engineering and scientific research of the technology during the three-year project. Members are encouraged to share this opportunity with peers – for more information contact:

Management and maintenance of sewer tunnels

Management and maintenance of sewer tunnels


Whilst the glamourous Rail and Road tunnels are visible and exciting to the public, with ample space to perform maintenance activities, the forgotten world of Utility tunnels have been just as crucial in keeping our societies operating since the first millennium.

Utility tunnels are smaller than their larger transport cousins, and the added issue of noxious gas environments makes maintaining these tunnels inherently more complex. Various companies undertake routine maintenance activities on drainage networks, including sewer tunnels.

Lee will share the challenges faced with managing and maintaining these tunnels after construction is completed.
 

Event program

Arrival and registration: 5.30pm - 6.00pm AEST (Brisbane time)
Webinar / presentation: 6.00pm - 7.00pm AEST (Brisbane time)
Networking: 7.00pm - 7.30pm AEST (Brisbane time)
 

Speaker

 Lee Gnezdiloff head shot

Lee Gnezdiloff, CPEng MIEAust
Project Manager, Veolia

Lee has over 20 years’ experience delivering challenging and complex maintenance projects within SEQ in the water and construction industry, and as an RPEQ since 2007. He has been the responsible engineer for conveyance network designs from concept through to IFC drawing packages, and as a project manager has managed teams to deliver network pipelines and pumping infrastructure, and supporting infrastructure (including civil buildings and structures, dams, creek diversions, roads, bridges and culverts) across locations in Queensland. Lee has worked for private and public clients, specialising as a superintendent’s representative for conveyance networks and civil infrastructure construction projects, and is currently a Project Manager for Veolia Network Services.

 

Date:
17 / 02 / 2022 - 07:00 pm to 08:00 pm
Registration Closes
17 / 02 / 2022 07:00 pm
Hybrid
Venue
Hybrid Event
Webinar and In-person in Brisbane
Level 9, 340 Adelaide Street
Brisbane City
,
Queensland
,
4000
Cost
  • Member Rate: $0.00 ($0.00 excl. GST)
  • Technical Society Member Rate: $0.00 ($0.00 excl. GST)
  • Student Member Rate: $0.00 ($0.00 excl. GST)
  • Non-Member Rate: $30.00 ($27.27 excl. GST)
Event Contact
  • Contact:
    Engineers Australia Member Services
  • Phone:
    1300 653 113
  • Email:
Maximum CPD Hours
1