The evaluation uses Neilly Davies Consulting Engineers based in Sydney and the Civil Engineering Sector, and analyzes both the business and the industry on the effect of labor market dynamics over the past 5 years and the same timeframe in the future. The key component of the assignment is a portion of observations split into three sections. The first part discusses labor market reports, facts and statistics; the second part explores Neilly Davies Consulting Engineers; and, finally, an undercover interview with Bob Nielsen, Assistant Manager. The last part interprets the conclusions and then provides a concise conclusion.
Part 1: Labour Research and Critical Analysis
Shortages of skilled engineers in the industry is a significant concern. Patty (2017) affirms that the Department of Employment data showcases that the engineering sector has had no skill shortage since 2012-2013, however, engineers are still listed in the department’s skilled occupations list; the list identifies occupations that experience skill shortages. Besides, it is a way of advertising to oversee engineers to come and take up the challenge. Data from the Department of Employment cited in Patty (2017) demonstrates that in the past 5 years there has been no shortage of engineer supplies in the labour market; nonetheless, the reason the profession is still listed in the occupations list is due to lack of skilled engineers from the local institutions. Though, in the next five years, the market will likely remain stable since the government often regulates the shortage through migration to moderate the boom/bust cycle (Patty, 2017), but there is also the need to start engineer mentoring schemes by allowing retired engineers to impact and development skills of the younger engineers as elaborated by Blaze (2008, p.10).
Technology is another critical factor in the industry whereby firms have struggled to keep up with its pace, and as pointed out by PwC (2017) a lot of firms in the industry still rely on paper-based processes that are purely out-dated. Consequently, many other firms have found it challenging shifting from the old way of doing things and adopting technology-oriented approaches considering the time and monetary factors. However, not all firms’ falls under the above-mentioned spectrum since some have adopted technology as a means of cutting cost. For instance, with increased clientele and the notion of relevance at stake, firm’s such as Neilly Davies Consulting Engineers have consolidated design centres and adopted building information centre systems that are critical in automating work, and supply information to workers, and development of efficient designs (The Government of Western Australia 2014, p.4-5). In the past five years, more firms will adopt technology due to demand for quality, increased projects that require much attention, and the competition factor among others.
Gender is another critical factor in the Civil Engineering Industry and the entire engineering industry. According to the data from the Institution of Engineers Australia (2016, p.7), engineering in Australia is a male-dominated affair. Data taken outside the five-year bracket points out that in 2006 census, there were 10.6 percent women in the labour force; 2011 census showed some improved to 11.8 percent while about 9.7 percent employed. Furthermore, the data demonstrate that over the past few years until last year women have shown higher proclivity in taking engineering courses. The trend is expected to continue for the next five years translating to more women in the Engineering profession/labour market.
Moreover, the demand vs. supply of engineers in Australia is also a factor. There is a shortage in the supply of engineers, the problem is attributed to the slow growth in employment in the Australia’s economy, in particular in the past five years (The Institution of Engineers Australia 2017, p.31). Also, the issue can be further attributed to the economic conditions in the labour market, which is characterised by slow infrastructure development. Data from the Institution of Engineers Australia (2017, p.31), showcases that in 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016, the percentage composite demand for engineers in Australia has been on the downward trend (Stewart, 2017). In the coming five years, changes in the engineering labour market would significantly depend on the following factors; infrastructure development and the revamping of the general labour market from a policy-perspective.
Part 2: Industry/Organisational Research and Critical Analysis
Neilly Davies Consulting Engineers is a multi-disciplinary consultancy firm located in Sydney (Neilly Davies 2017). The company has nearly 40 years of experience, for it was established in 1977. It specialises in offering building, surveying, and civil, structural, geotechnical, environmental, and hydraulic engineering services, and operates in the building and transport infrastructure sectors (Hipages 2017; Service Seeking Pty 2017). Moreover, the company offers a variety of services that range from design and documentation relating to assessment, inspection and rehabilitation of the current assets. Most significant, the firm has the capability of integrating all the above disciplines and in the process afford innovative, cost-effective and practical solutions that suit the needs of any project in the expense of its complexity (ProTenders Inc. 2017).
Neilly Davies prides itself on experience (thus quality products/services), breadth of expertise (flexibility), scale (completion of any type and size of the project), innovativeness and simplicity, leaders in offering engineering and construction services and gives the reason to be trusted over the years (Neilly Davies 2017). Besides, the above factors have impacted on the operation of other firms in the industry too. In the next five years, as projects increases in magnitude and some of them becoming more complex, firms in the industry will be stretched to the limit leading new challenges. Some of rising challenges that organisations will have to address include:
Skilled Labour Shortages
As pointed out by Fortunity (2017), shortage of skilled labour has been a factor in the Australia construction industry. The author further asserts that Australia has not been in a position to produce skilled professionals in the sector that have the right skills and abilities. A 2012 article on skilled labour shortage by Poloni (2012) mentions that there was a shortage in skilled labourers across the engineering spectrum. Furthermore, a government list of shortages pointed out that civil engineers are among those that are in high demand, and the next five years will be no different.
Working capital is critical in the civil engineering sector wherein firms need huge capital to pursue large projects and considering the fact that project magnitude and scale would continue to increase, some firms in the sector might lack enough monetary resources to fund the progress of a project or projects pursued at once paving way for few firms with resources to operate.
Ever-increasing project Costs
The problem that the Australia construction company or the civil engineering sector has faced over time is the rising project costs (Admin, 2015). The reason for the increase is due to the rise in prices of oil, metal and rising interest rates among others. The factors affect efficiency of firms in the sector and as the prices rise that means projects quality standards will continue to be jeopardised.
Corruption has significantly impacted the industry. Firms that engage in corruption will continue to undermine the required construction standards. Admin (2015) highlights that by that year the government was considering returning the Australian Building and Construction Commission; whether the government has introduced it or not, either way, the issue will have diverse consequences to the sector in the next five years.
Lastly, quality control is another factor that will greatly impact firms in the industry. It is one issue that Admin (2015) asserts that disturbs the industry. By that year, Australia had no quality control laws or regulations in place; the industry for years has had no focus, but the continual offering of low-quality services will see the related bodies come up with regulations in the next few years; these regulations will impact on the delivery of services in the industry. However, the existing quality control on products, equipment, machinery and systems as documented in SGS Australia (2017) will remain unchanged.
Part 3: Investigative Interview
I managed to interview Bob Nielsen, who’s an employee at Neilly Davies Consulting Engineers. I chose Nielsen for a couple of reasons, one of them being that he is an alumnus of Swinburne. As it turned out, Mr Nielsen had carried out such an assignment during his time and he understood what it meant and what to expect.
Nielsen was easy to approach and began by asking me which industry I had chosen; it took me aback, for I was just about to explain to him since I assumed it would be long, but he still seemed to remember all the details. I told him I am more into Civil Engineering Industry and that I had chosen to write about the company since it had all the reputation when compared to others. As well, I told him that I was more interested in looking at the trends/changes that have impacted operations in the industry and changes that are more likely to occur in the next five years, and factors that will cause these changes, and he said that was okay.
Throughout the interview, Nielsen responded effectively like he knew the industry like the back of his hands, he had carried along some company materials and records for reference and clarification. I started by asking him to clarify his position, and Nielsen highlighted that he is an assistant manager at the firm for two years now, and ascended to the position after the death of the previous assistant manager in a road accident.
Since we did not have much time, I inquired about Neilly Davies core business, examples of new roles that have emerged during his tenure, what skills and knowledge they look for in new employees, and factors that have impacted the firm and industry in the past five years. According to Nielsen, Neilly Davies is a multi-disciplinary firm that also engages in consultancy and specialises in many fields building services, civil, hydraulic and structural engineering, and surveying. The company operates in the building and transport infrastructure sector and has been one of the leading company for a period of nearly four decades. He gave examples of areas in the construction industry that they focus a lot, these areas include residential buildings, industrial assets, commercial buildings, roads, and bridges.
About skills and knowledge, he mentioned technical, project management, communication, creativity and critical thinking skills, and have remained this since the firms existence. He clarified that the firm strictly employs graduates with the above merits, in addition to other sets of exhaustive skills. Nielsen pointed out that every role in the firm so far has been crucial in the success of the organisation.
I asked Nielsen about his perspective on the factors that have impacted the industry in the past few years, he affirmed that the changing nature of government rules and regulations, customers demand for quality, the changing nature of the industry, the economic structural changes, technology, and uncertainty in the labour market. On the labour factor, he elaborated that most of the modern graduates from most of the local institutions do not have all the necessary or needed skills.
Lastly, Nielsen said that “in the next five years, I do not anticipate many changes.” He further explained by saying that the industry has been stable for the past five years, and according to him he does not anticipate many changes. However, he acknowledged the speedy changes in technology and legal issues as significant factors, and maybe entrance of new firms in the industry as threats to the current stability.
Overall, the interview was a success and I managed to get all the required data, in particular, information on the trends. Moreover, Nielsen managed to give me other company resources for reference during my research.
Interpretation of Findings
In summary, the Australian civil engineering sector has grown over the years, and like other industries, there are a lot of factors that have either slowed or hastened this growth. In this paper, I focussed my research on Neilly Davies Consulting Engineers firm. The reason was due to its reputation that spans for a period of 40 years in the industry and its multi-disciplinary approach to the industry. From the research, it is ostensible that in the civil engineering industry, factors that impact overall operations in the industry, have the same effects on individual industries. Furthermore, the changing nature of these factors have different effects over the years and more likely into the future operations. These factors include Shortages in the skilled labour, new technology, demand-and-supply of engineers, capital, economic concerns due to rise in the cost of essential supplies, corruption, and quality issues. Besides, Nielsen indicated other issues such as the changing nature of government rules and regulations, quality demands, the economic structural changes, and uncertainty in the labour market. Even though, Nielsen expressed optimism in the stability of the industry in the next five years, the uncertainties that arises from legal, increasing demand for quality thus changes in laws and regulations, new technologies and supply of skilled labour among others, which are becoming a reality will impact the industry and related firms in the coming five years.
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