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A new report shows wages growth has slowed in Australia’s engineering sector despite the profession’s critical role in bringing the nation’s bumper infrastructure investment to fruition.

The Professional Engineers Employment and Remuneration Report 2021/2022 released by the Association of Professional Engineers Australia found that average wages for engineers rose by 1.6 percent over the last 12 months, compared with 2.4 per cent in the year prior.

In a sector-by-sector break-down, engineers in the Defence industry fared best in terms of growth rate with an average annual increase of 2.1 per cent.

Wages in the road industry, the water, sewerage and drainage industry, and the construction industry also rose moderately, increasing between 1.7 and 2.0 per cent.

Respondents from New South Wales reported the highest median total package at $149,378, followed by Queensland at $145,852 and the ACT with $144,250.

The APEA survey also showed that 49.2 per cent of engineers had changed employers seeking an increase in remuneration while 51.7 per cent did so for professional development opportunities.

Professionals Australia chief executive officer Jill McCabe said that the report illustrated the critical role that Australia’s engineers were playing in the nation’s economic recovery and lessons for engineering employers.

“Fortunately, Australia is beginning to emerge from the difficult years of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I’m proud to say that Australian engineers are helping to lead our nation out of the economic crisis through their invaluable work in the delivery of a quarter trillion dollar investment in new infrastructure across our country,” she said.

“Unfortunately, we’ve not seen this record infrastructure investment and increased demand for engineers flow on to greater wage increases compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“Around half of the engineers surveyed believed both that their remuneration packages were falling behind what others undertaking similar work were being paid, and that their packages were not commensurate with the level of responsibility they undertook day to day.

“It’s clear from the data that to attract and retain high quality engineering talent, employers must offer competitive remuneration packages and professional development opportunities to prospective candidates.”

Findings highlight gender inequity

Ms McCabe also said the report once again highlighted that much more work needed to done to address gender equity in the profession.

“Unfortunately, women still face an average gender pay gap of 9.8 per cent when compared with men,” she said.

“34.9 per cent of women also reported that they had experienced discrimination on the basis of gender in the workplace.

“Unacceptably, 25.4 per cent of women also reported they have experienced sexual harassment in their engineering workplaces compared with just 2.5 per cent of men.

“With little improvement year to year, these statistics demonstrate that the engineering sector has a deep, cultural and institutional problem with the women which needs to change as a matter of urgency.”