Mildura takes scholarly approach to skills shortage

By Adam Coleman

Victoria’s Mildura Rural City Council has developed a scholarship program for engineers in an attempt to make some inroads into overcoming the problem of local skills shortages.

“We’ve had a lot of trouble attracting and retaining skilled engineers, and this was a way of growing our own and contributing to the profession,” said Mildura Rural City Council asset development manager, Allan Morffey.

“I’m battling to retain the engineers that I’ve got. We are on the border with NSW and presently the Wentworth Shire has no engineers at all.

“The [engineering] students from their final year are all guaranteed a place in the industry, and they are being offered more than the local government can afford,” he said.

In its first year the program has attracted an engineering student in his first year of undergraduate studies, Tom Sykes.
Under the arrangement, the Council will contribute $5000 per year upon the satisfactory completion of the Tom’s exams and he will work over the semester breaks with council at an agreed rate of pay.

The Council has also discussed retaining him after he completes his exams to continue to work with them for two years.

“You can’t actually bind anybody legally to that. But that is part of the discussions we have had with Tom. Upon graduation there will be a position here at an agreed rate of pay.”

“This is the first year of the program we are just going to see how it goes. It is a step forward for council,” Morffey said.
“We have just tried to create more engineers and help local students that are interested in engineering.”

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