Home' Careers in Engineering and Construction : 2010 Contents NATAGE H005
Engineering, mining & construction
Installation of noise walls panels for Geelong Ring Road. Photo courtesy of Abigroup.
Australia is embarking on a long-
overdue program of
infrastructure building. Ports,
roads, rail, pipelines, desalinators --- big
projects, big workforces. Assuming they
can be found. The world-wide shortage
of engineers is compounded by a similar
shortage of people to do the actual
work of construction: plant operators,
site managers, tunnellers, pipe layers,
foremen and team leaders in many
The Civil Contractors Federation is
taking a two-pronged approach. Firstly,
the industry needs to recognise the
skills already present in its workforce.
Many roles are effectively under-
specified, requiring skills that are not
part of the standard job description.
These roles must be awarded the status
they deserve, as part of a campaign to
turn what has popularly been seen as
low-skill, dirty, undesirable, and
intermittent job, into a proper trade
with a career path.
Secondly, the construction industry
needs more people, but the days are
long gone when all you needed was a
shovel and boots. Modern construction
methods demand skills at all levels, and
now the CCF is backing a Certificate II in
''It is almost like an introduction to
the industry,'' says Faye Doherty, careers
advisor for the CCF. ''It takes between 10
and 15 weeks, and allows people who
would like to come into the industry at
the trade level, whether they are
mature-aged or from school, to be job
ready at the end of it.''
Technology has revolutionised
construction as much as it has any other
industry, Ms Doherty says. ''The industry
has come a long way, particularly in
recent years. Before any project is
undertaken we assess the
environmental impact --- dust, noise
and so on, and we work closely with the
community, keeping them informed.
''We have the latest state-of-the-art
equipment, we use lasers, GPS, and
computerised systems. If you get into an
excavator, for instance, you will find
that it is air-conditioned, with
comfortable sprung seating and it is
operated by joy-sticks rather like
something in a video game.''
Mechanisation has laid a great deal
of responsibility on individual workers,
projects have to be carefully planned,
and everybody has to be kept in the
loop, as mistakes can be hugely
expensive, or highly dangerous. To
maximise skill and minimise risk, the
CCF runs courses on topics such as traffic
management, interpreting plans and
The CCF's aim is to turn construction
work from casual unskilled or semi-
skilled work into a recognised career.
''As a plant operator you are earning
anything from $60,000 to $120,000 a
year or more,'' Ms Doherty says. ''With a
Certificate II, if you have some
experience, you will earn probably
about $800 a week.''
Beyond the entry-level Certificate II
there are Certificates III and IV, a
diploma, an advanced diploma, and
finally the degree level, which is
Go to www.civilcontractors.com/
victoria/careers/ for more information
on where courses are held.
''When I speak with people in the
industry --- plant operators, site
managers, environmental specialists,
civil engineers --- I hear 'I love my job, I
can't wait to get to work every day. We
are paid well, we are looked after, it's a
rewarding job','' Ms Doherty says.
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