International infrastructure contractor, Salini Impreglio, says the company is considering bringing its own engineering training programs to Australia in a bid to ensure there are enough skilled engineers to build future infrastructure.
“If we do not invest in young engineers, there will be no future for this industry,” the company’s global CEO Pietro Salino warned.
The pressure in realising these large programs of infrastructure means there will be a “competing atmosphere between companies” he told the AFR on a recent trip to Australia.
“[It] means a very high volatility [staff turnover] inside the companies, which is not a good thing.”
And Salino should know. He heads a global company of 35,000 employees across 50 countries with revenues of € 6.5 billion and a total backlog of € 34.4 billion.
Various engineering sectors in Australia are concerned about a looming skills shortage. CEO of John Holland, Joe Barr, told the AFR’s National Infrastructure Summit that the group needs to hire 100 people a month.
In Italy, the company develops intensive courses for young engineers and gets them working on projects through a Master’s degree in International Construction Management in collaboration with the Politecnico di Milano.
"I think that this program could work pretty well here in Australia too," Mr Salini said.
In 2015, Salini Impreglio hired 100 engineering graduates and earlier this year announced it was hiring another 50 with at least two years’ experience for its US projects.
While the company has been active in Australia since the mid-1970s its profile is more prominent these days. Salini Impreglio is involved in consortia and JVs on very large infrastructure projects in WA, NSW and QLD – the Forrestfield-Airport Link in Perth, Sydney Metro Northwest, and the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane.
And the company plans to become “the number one” in Australia, according to Salini, effectively throwing down the gauntlet to its local opposition, Cimic, John Holland, CPB Contractors, Lendlease and others.
"We think we are the most competent company around the world in terms of large infrastructure and complex projects,” Salini said.
Image: Salino Impreglio and its JV partner secured the design, construction and 10-year maintenance contract for the Forrestfield-Airport Link in Perth. Source: Salino Impreglio.