Water Journal : Water Journal May 2012
feature article water MAY 2012 55 AWA undertook a national skills audit of the Australian water industry throughout August and September 2011. The AWA National Water Skills Audit 2011 was conducted to assess the water industry's current and future skills needs and requirements. As a biennial study, the audit will provide qualitative and quantitative data and provide a mechanism for evaluating and guiding the sector's understanding, preparedness and coordination in meeting skills challenges, including projects and investments designed to address the skills shortage. The first AWA National Water Skills Audit attracted 46 respondents from a diverse range of organisation types, locations and sizes. The respondents included water utilities, local government water providers, government agencies with water responsibilities, engineering firms and consultancies, membership associations, research agencies, training organisations and mining companies from around the nation. The respondents were a good cross-section of the water sector in Australia and, as the first of a regular biennial audit, this provides a solid base to build upon in future audits. The limited number of respondents to the Audit means a cautious approach should be taken when making definitive statements about the entire water sector from these results. However, there are strong indications from the data, including: 1. The Audit respondents reported the following workforce characteristics: • Almost half of employees (42%) have worked for three years or less at their current organisation (see Figure 1); • There is a higher proportion of long-term employees in comparison to the general workforce average; • Low turnover rate (below 10%) (see Figure 2); • The majority of employees are in the 36--55-year- old age range (see Figure 3); • The industry is male dominated (over 62% male); • The number of senior management roles held by women is below the Australian average; • Thereisa relatively low representation of minorities, e.g. non-English speaking background, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and persons with disabilities. 2. Over the next five years, the highest demand roles are predicted to be: • Civil engineer; • CEO, senior, corporate and divisional managers; • Information technology; • Water treatment; • Asset maintenance and construction. 3. The majority of respondents report that they are recruiting, that their organisations are growing in staff numbers, and that they are experiencing a skills shortage. It was also reported that staff are being poached and overseas staff are being recruited to supplement the Australian workforce (see Figure 4). 4. Candidates are being sourced chiefly through internet and newspaper advertising, with industry websites, recruitment agencies and staff referrals playing a smaller role. This extract outlines key data gleaned from audit respondents that will act as a guide to meet skills challenges of the future. AWA National Water Skills Audit 2011 Report Figure 3. Workforce age. Demographic Estimated % of workforce < 25 years old 0--10% 25 -- 35 years old 11--20% 36 -- 45 years old 21--30% 46 -- 55 years old 21--30% 56 -- 65 years old 11--20% > 65 years old 0--10% *Note: Percentage figures were bracketed and not exact, so total does not equal 100%. Figure 1. Indicate your overall workforce tenure by percentage breakdown (average answer). Figure 2. What is your organisation's current or most recent turnover rate? Figure 4. Recruitment status of respondents.
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