Supporting international engineers’ skill translation to the Australian workforce

Recognising the significant impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the skilled labour market, particularly within engineering in Australia where job vacancies have hit a 10-year high, La Trobe University sought in collaboration with its regional partners and academic experts to help build capability and tap into the valuable experience already nestled within our communities.

Partnering with the Shepparton City Council, Committee for Greater Shepparton, GROW, Goulburn Valley Infrastructure Network; Shepparton Rotary and Shepparton Multicultural Group, La Trobe embarked on the development and delivery of a new program for the migrant engineering community, ‘Preparation for Professional Employment Program (P4PE)’.

Commencing in September 2022, P4PE was delivered over six-week online and was designed for international engineering professionals seeking to secure roles within Australian engineering or manufacturing companies. The program aimed to help translate the professional experiences and education of international engineers to the Australian workforce for success, where often migrant engineers have been unable to translate their qualifications and accreditations towards Australian requirements.

Facilitated by industry experts and La Trobe academic Dr Vipul Patel, Senior Lecturer - Civil Engineering, and Mr Geoffrey Guillfoyle - Careers and Employability Consultant, participants were delivered workshops and sessions covering relevant topics including Australian recruitment practices, quality assurance and compliance in engineering, best practice communication in engineering, presenting for success, how to apply for roles and developing networking skills. Additionally, participants were offered a two-week placement with local manufacturing companies, with introductions to other local companies FruitCo Ardmona and Goulburn Valley Water at the conclusion of the program.

Attracting over 50 applications, 20 were selected, with eight of those participants finding employment during the program with the remaining 12 participants finishing the full program and internships with their matched companies.

Dr Vipul Patel, Senior Lecturer – Civil Engineering, La Trobe University said that there were many participants that had been away from their discipline for many years or in a different field than they intended, with the program helping build a connection between their experience and professionalism.

“A highlight of this program is the support provided to gain Engineering Australia credentials. The industry may not be aware that their experience is valid however we can support the individual to build a case for themselves with the credits from Engineers Australia that it is possible, and they are qualified to work in Australia.”

“It’s always been the case that overseas-born engineers make up about 50-60 % of the Australian engineering workforce,” explains Dr Geoffrey Guilfoyle.

“With the current engineering skills shortage – made worse by the disruptions of the pandemic border closures - it makes sense to help people with overseas professional experience and qualifications navigate the job market.  P4PE created a peer connected group of people resulting in a more supportive and encouraging approach to connect to the Australian workforce.”

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