Addressing the skills capacity crisis in road and rail engineering

20 Jul 2011

A recent research report conducted by the Workplace Research Centre in partnership with the National Institute of Labour Studies (NILS) has examined strategies to overcome the acute skills capacity crisis in road and rail engineering. The research was commissioned by the Australian National Engineering Taskforce which was formed in 2010 with the aim of creating a national strategy for the development of Australia's current and future engineering workforce.


The research was conducted by Sarah Wise, Hanna Schutz, Josh Healy and Darcy Fitzpatrick and adopted both quantitative and qualitative methods. The quantitative research describes the key attributes of road and rail engineers and the qualitative case study method analyses skill utilisation and acquisition in the rail industry. This report is a consolidation of both the quantitative and qualitative research components and makes key recommendations of how road and rail engineering skills can be better utilised and acquired. The recommendations comprise actions at the workplace and industry level and are largely based on the good practice found in the case study organisations. A number of the recommendations give rise to policy implications for government.

According to Paul Davies from ANET “the report has clear implications for all government funded infrastructure. This research highlights the kind of interventions required to properly develop the engineering workforce. However, without a process for wholesale adoption of these measures we'll continue to see waste, cost blows and individual businesses trading on skills shortages. Governments and asset owners need to think about how they can better leverage investment to create industry wide improvements to engineering workforce."

‘Engineering Skills Capacity in the Road and Rail Industries’ is available at

For further information about the research please contact Hanna Schutz (WRC) or Paul Davies (ANET)