Now is the time for training

COVID-19 has had a marked impact on most working lives. While many are facing challenges, the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia and its various branches is encouraging those in a position to up-skill to use this time to help prepare themselves for the future.

In early 2020 Infrastructure Australia found the growing demand faced by Australia’s road network and the high cost of maintaining roads was contributing to an overall maintenance backlog.

As construction continues across the country during COVID-19 this presents the opportunity for all levels of government to address the road maintenance backlog. Pushing forward some of these projects could also help to stimulate the economy and drive local employment.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said in April that he had written to all local governments requesting they bring forward maintenance projects to stimulate the economy and support local jobs.

However, COVID-19 is putting added pressure onto councils and their ability to retain staff. In mid-April the Australian Local Government Association called on the government for local councils to be included in the Federal Government’s Job Keeper payment after estimates showed a large number of employees were at risk of being laid off.

In the face of these challenges, there is room for opportunity. In some cases, councils and state governments now have the chance to address the skills shortage and even the maintenance backlog by employing the construction sector to begin maintenance projects.

Francine Binns, Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA) NSW CEO says the pandemic has created a focus in many areas from federal, state and local governments to get works moving as this would be advantageous for employment opportunities, reducing the skills shortage and economic stimulation in regionally.

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