Demand (and opportunity) for engineers reaches new heights in Canberra

Posted 24 Aug 2017

Story by Hays

An upswing in projects is creating jobs for skilled engineers in Canberra, and employers are casting their net wide when looking to fill these vacancies.

We know that Canberra promises remarkable career progression, and the industry is looking to entice talented interstaters to make the capital home.

According to Matthew Kelly, Business Director of recruiting experts Hays in Canberra, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, and mid to senior-level industry leaders top the list of those in most demand in the Territory.

Hays is also seeing more consultancies looking to grow their geotechnical and environmental capabilities as the public sector pushes more environmentally sustainable design throughout the city.

Those willing to relocate to Canberra are rewarded with employers who understand the importance of work-life balance and genuinely value the well-being of their staff.


“A commute of 20 minutes at most is certainly appealing to the engineers we talk to from interstate,” Matthew says. “Canberra’s educational institutions and healthcare services, combined with the advantages of living in a planned city with affordable housing, also draw the interest of interstate skilled professionals.”

The potential for long-term career progression in Canberra is huge. Matthew says that “when talking to people from interstate we stress that while Canberra is a small city, your career will progress quickly. Major projects such as the Light Rail, Canberra Casino and a large CBD commercial building project are all adding to the career advancing opportunities on offer.”

One employer offering such opportunities is WSP. Its environmental, buildings, specialists and precinct teams are all in growth mode with current and upcoming projects including new commercial buildings, school expansions, several significantly sized office fit-outs, refurbishments and security upgrades.

WSP’s environmental teams are also recruiting for an increasing number of asbestos and contaminated land remediation projects. Add several large residential and mixed-use developments, and the market shows no sign of abating any time soon.

From small residential DA’s in town centres, to new buildings for the ACT Government and ANU, right up to the Sea 5000 project, the scale of current projects at WSP varies immensely – but the one thing they all have in common is that they require skilled professionals to help complete them.

According to Dan Cunningham, Director at WSP, attracting talent is always a highly competitive process. “For our business, we’re eager to not only attract people who are technically brilliant, but who also share our purpose and want to be part of a business that helps create connected, resilient communities.

“We are looking for creative people who ask questions of us and our clients. That’s how we will design future-focused projects and precincts together,” says Dan.

“Canberra is a marvellous city but it is a small one. We are keen to bring in talented people, with the drive to contribute to the shaping of this city. There are strong career advancing opportunities here for the right people.”

Dan should know. He himself came to Canberra after an internal transfer from WSP’s Cairns office eight years ago. In fact, several members of the WSP team relocated from interstate or overseas, attracted to the culture of the firm and the possibilities Canberra offers.

It’s clear Dan is proud of WSP’s brand and culture in Canberra. “We’ve invested a lot of time and effort in building our culture and it’s regularly a feature in a candidate’s decision to move here. Our whole leadership team are proud ambassadors of Canberra and our entire team is proud to be shaping Canberra, for today and tomorrow.”

Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Burley Griffin

Looking ahead, Canberra’s engineering sector has strong forward projections. As Dan explains, “The recent census gives some insight as to where population growth in ACT will be, providing a direction for the type of projects our sector will be contributing to in the coming years.

“In addition, we expect Commonwealth government projects, including defence, to be a driver of upcoming activity.  We’re also seeing increased commercial development planning and design in readiness for the easing of the residential development market in the coming years – although the residential and mixed-use sectors will remain steady for the next 12 months.

“As the Territory government completes some significant projects, including the Mr Fluffy remediation program, we look forward to a renewed focus on healthcare projects and more planning for City to the Lake.”

As for the industry, it’s clear that technology is creating interesting changes. As Dan explains, “I see technology and digital integration as a growth opportunity for engineers, with connectivity and IoT partnered with data management key drivers for our clients.”

One thing Canberra certainly isn’t lacking is opportunity. Are you ready to play your part?

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