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Migrants connect with industry to close skills gap, News, La Trobe University

Imagine having more than 20 years’ experience, working on major projects around the globe, yet a lack of familiarity with Australia’s engineering workforce culture is hindering employment prospects.

That’s the conundrum facing many skilled migrants across the country and La Trobe University has the solution: a new Industry-Integrated Master of Engineering Program that upskills engineers for the Australian job market.

Silvana Diaz Urbina and Hassan El Maoued are among the new cohort of 30 students, predominantly overseas qualified engineers, who have commenced the one-year course this month.

Professor Hossam Aboel Naga, Head of La Trobe’s Department of Engineering, said the new course addresses a paradox in the engineering industry.

“Despite a high demand for engineers in Australia, many skilled migrant engineers find themselves without employment. In fact, only 50 per cent of skilled migrant engineers in Australia are employed in engineering roles,” Professor Aboel Naga explains.

“In response, we have developed a course in collaboration with leading engineering companies in Australia, including Siemens, John Holland and Fulton Hogan, and endorsed by Engineers Australia to help bridge this gap.

“Our Industry-Integrated Master of Engineering is specifically designed to enhance the qualifications of overseas-trained engineers in Australia.”

The program blends academic learning with practical industry experience. All participants are required to undertake 800 hours of work placement where they will gain practical experience and contribute to genuine engineering projects.

“I have applied for this Master of Engineering program because I believe it will be my link to joining the Australian job market,” commencing student, Silvana, said.

“I strongly believe the extensive placement hours could be a powerful way to start my incorporation into the Australian work culture.”

Hailing from Chile, Silvana is an environmental engineer with more than 15 years of experience in the mining sector specialising in operational engineering and environmental management systems.

“Finding a professional job in Australia has been the most challenging and frustrating process I have ever experienced and the reason for this is something that I’m still trying to understand,” Silvana said.

“I am privileged to have a beautiful and supportive family however this situation, without a doubt, has affected us in many aspects including financially as well as our mental and physical well-being.”

La Trobe’s initiative aims to bridge the gap between the abundant talent among migrant engineers and the industries eager to employ them.

For structural engineer Hassan, whose career has spanned over two decades and reached all corners of the globe, this Industry-Integrated Master of Engineering degree is an opportunity to continue learning and follow his passion.

“My undergraduate degree is nearly 20 years old and now with modern technology, I think you always need to reinvent yourself in the job market,” Hassan said.

“This Master’s degree is unique to the Australian engineering landscape, reflecting the local engineering workplace culture, standards, and safety regulations. In order to be proactive in the job market and receive promotions, I need to be educated about this specific market and its people.”


Media Contact

Jess Whitty – [email protected], 0481 383 817

*Case studies available for interviews on request.




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