I wrote an open letter to various Industry Associations and for those who have not seen this post, it can be viewed at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/engineering-several-across-australia-reaching-crisis-point-ray-pavri.

The article speaks of the pain being suffered by the tens of thousands of engineers in industries like O&G, mining, power generation and manufacturing. These are people who have been laid off, who are fearful of being laid off or who are working in very challenging working environments, where they have no choice other than to bite their lip and comply. Comply, because the market has shrunk and they feel they must stay on or else they potentially lose their home and the ability to provide for their families.

I mentioned in the article that a national strategy in relation to this must be formulated. That’s because its putting a lot of very competent individuals out to pasture too early and this has huge impacts. One impact is that fewer people will pursue engineering in future. After all, which parent would get their son or daughter to get into engineering after going through this themselves? So it means Australia loses out as a nation. Then the public purse, in terms of having to support individuals in the thousands who at 40 and over have lost their jobs, is being impacted. Statics state that if individuals are made redundant in their 40’s and if they do not get a job back again within two years, it is more than likely they will be permanently unemployed. So this means an earlier impact on the public purse by about 20 years and for thousands of people going to the dole early. Then there are the unseen costs on mental health, marriage breakdowns and a low quality of life and the impact on the social fibre of the engineering profession.

Now 1,908 people viewed this article – so it hit a nerve.

But only a very, very small number actually responded publicly with comments or suggestions (several called me personally to say they agreed with what was being said – but not publicly). And the comments were very rich with content and ideas.

So a voice too little, for a topic as important as this.

As a profession, if you feel you are not getting enough from your industry associations, then have you thought that perhaps you are getting what you ask for (or don’t)? If you are getting nothing from your professional bodies towards this important issue, what does this say?

After all, any number of ideas can come about if it’s taken up as a National issue but does anyone other than those suffering see it as a major issue? And if those suffering (or people around them) don’t speak up, how will it be seen as a National issue?

My idea for a national policy on this goes like this and any feedback is welcome.

It is to have a national gateway created for people from old industries to be re-trained and taken as apprentices for a short period of time in the newer industries.

It would be a lot cheaper than getting people from overseas on a 457 visa (especially if you include travel costs, re-location costs and then the cost of people from overseas moving within 18 months to two years of getting the initial job with the consequence that those who take people from overseas pay a much higher price than they actually think they are paying).

Now I am sure other ideas could also come about if we get into the brain storming stage and if things are looked at with some resource being allocated to this.

But it needs a national approach and it needs to come from industry associations who get to understand that early retirement for the tens of thousands of engineers is not a good thing and as an important stakeholder, they need to take the cudgels up on behalf of the profession.

So engineers provide your comments, share this post.

Make this an issue – especially if you feel this is affecting you or someone close to you.