A TAMWORTH surveyor says his industry’s importance has not been promoted enough and it’s resulting in a declining regional surveyor workforce.
Mitchel Hanlon says surveyors aren’t “just the guys standing on the side of the road with rulers and cameras”.
They’re responsible for getting applications through councils and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), as well as design and engineering work.
He has backed a report that found a surveyor shortfall will affect Australia’s ambitious infrastructure goals by 2020.
The Skills Gap Study for Surveyors and Geospatial Professionals report by Consulting Surveyors National warns an acute shortage of surveyor workers could be a wet blanket on Australian industry in the next 10 years, with potentially disastrous ramifications for residential construction, utilities, transport and mining.
Mr Hanlon, of Tamworth-based Mitchel Hanlon Consulting, says the shortages are already widespread in the New England and North West.
He said most surveyors now travelled from Newcastle and only a small number were employed locally.
“I was 25 when I started back in 1989 and there were about 30 surveyors in the region,” Mr Hanlon said.
“Now I’m one of the youngest at 49 years old, and there’s only a handful.”
Mr Hanlon said, without a local surveyor workforce, the bigger regional projects would more than likely make it off the ground but the smaller projects could find it harder.
He said most people underestimated the work surveyors did in the initial stages of a new project.
“People know what doctors and accountants do,” Mr Hanlon said.
“We designed the first rail tracks.”
The new report has found surveyors are so important that a shortfall could slow the rebound of the housing industry, make improvements to electricity and transport infrastructure more costly and pressure the already slowing mining boom.
It predicts the first two labour crunches will hit Australia in three years’ time with a 10 per cent shortage of the 8948 surveyors needed.
The shortage is expected to blow out further when demand for surveyors peaks in 2019, with 1500 surveyors short of the required 9501.
Mr Hanlon said a lack of promotion to study the profession could be to blame.
“There’s not enough kids getting through the university courses and it’s not on TV,” he said.
“We have to get the young kids interested – it’s a very interesting and diverse working life.”
He said the allure of the mining industry was also attracting would-be surveyors, with engineering graduates turning towards the promise of higher pay.
Consulting Surveyors National chairman Phil Dingeldei has suggested urgent and co-ordinated action was needed from the surveying industry, the education sector and government.
“We each need to do our part,” Mr Dingeldei said.