The Northern Territory is experiencing a serious lack of surveying talent that can only be remedied with local education options, according to Darwin surveying firm Fyfe JMA.
Attracting skilled surveyors to Darwin and then retaining them is proving extremely difficult from for the firm because of strong competition from other states and the mining industry.
Warwick Bryant, Fyfe JMA’s division manager, said the problem was compounded by relatively few people taking up surveying around Australia, despite relatively good pay and conditions.
“This makes it difficult to have enough staff to meet demand, especially with the huge volume of work that is in the pipeline in and around Darwin, and the situation is only going to get worse,” he said.
“We are currently looking for one or two senior licensed surveyors to join our team and I understand the situation is pretty much the same for our competitors in the Territory.”
One solution for the Northern Territory would be to encourage more local school leavers to take on surveying as a career, according to Bryant.
“People who have completed their schooling in the Territory are more likely to stay, especially if they can be trained locally, say through the Charles Darwin University,” he said.
A template for such a course had been established at the University of South Australia, where a new two two-year Masters Degree in surveying commenced this year.
The two-year post-graduate degree is significantly funded by industry through a levy on all new planning applications.
Bryant said that while any course in Darwin would need to take local factors into account, the principle of industry funding at least part of the cost of the course was something that should be seriously considered.
“To achieve this, the NT Government would need to legislate to enable the levy to be increased and for the money to be used to help fund the course,” he said.
The Surveyors Board and Charles Darwin University would also need to agree to the move.
Bryant added that demand for a course was strong, partly because of good starting salaries. The average graduate surveyor in the private sector starts on a salary of around $50,000, with experienced surveyors drawing salaries of between $85,000 and $120,000 a year.