UNE and RTA engineer a skills shortage solution

Published 28 August 2009

roadAn agreement signed today between the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) and the University of New England (UNE) will establish a Cadetship Program to address a national shortage of civil engineers. 

 The Program offers recipients funding while they undertake a three-year Bachelor of Engineering Technology degree, paid regional work placements during semester breaks, and internship periods at the RTA. Two cadetships will be offered from 2010. 

Vice-Chancellor and CEO, Professor Alan Pettigrew, who signed the agreement with RTA Director Richard Boggan, said the agreement would provide significant benefits to the general community and to both organisations.  

 “Through these cadetships students will be supported at University and have specific opportunities to participate in the workplace, which will eventually lead to a seamless transition from study to full time work, ” he said. 

 “An opportunity also exists within the arrangement for students to complete their Bachelor of Engineering studies at the University of Southern Queensland.”

The Program will enable students to apply their studies to current technical projects, develop project management skills and network with engineering professionals to develop their career paths. 

Mr Boggan said the initiative fitted well with the RTA focus on customers and communities and would help to meet the challenges of critical skills shortages expected in the engineering profession over the coming years.

It would also assist the organisation to meet the schedule for improving and building new infrastructure in NSW by planning ahead and training graduate engineers.

“The RTA workforce is highly skilled and experienced,” he said.  “It is an employer of choice for many professionals. However with ‘baby boomers’ now reaching retirement age we are taking this initiative  to ensure a new generation of engineers to take over.”

UNE Chancellor Dr Richard Torbay welcomed the initiative. 

 “There is an acute shortage of engineers in regional areas,” he said. 

 “This cadetship program offers great opportunities for our students and is another example of how we can work together to train students locally and encourage them to stay in the regions to make their lives and careers.  

 “This new Engineering Technology degree follows the success of the Rural Medical School and the Rural Social Work degree program, alongside new courses including the Bachelor of Criminology, and Bachelor of GeoScience, which is helping up-skill the region and arrest the brain-drain to big cities”.  

 “Research has shown that students are more likely to take up jobs in the areas where they undertake their studies and training.  

“It is very welcome to see the RTA working with UNE on this innovative project.”

Media contact: Michael Kauter, UNE, on 02 6773 3872/0429360498 or  RTA Media Unit  8588 5999.