There's a demand for engineers in Armidale at the moment, with a wide range of infrastructure projects in the pipeline, but one firm said it is struggling to find staff to keep up with the workload.
As projects go ahead, such as the Old Teachers College's renovation ahead of the arrival of the Department of Regional NSW in Armidale and a plethora of renewable energy builds, there has been a changing of the guard in the local industry.
Kelley Covey Group, an engineering consultancy company in Tamworth, opened an Armidale office in March last year.
Manager Justin Cant said the need for engineering companies in Armidale had increased as a number of local engineers had neared retirement age.
"We'd been speaking with them for some time, and they suggested if we had the capabilities, we should open an office here," he said.
"There is quite a bit of infrastructure work at the University New England as well as other government work up this way."
The company has been involved in the subdivision at Cooks Hill, various University of New England builds and has retail projects in the pipeline.
While Mr Cant said they would also be pitching for any work linked to the Old Teachers College's renovation, vacancies remained for qualified staff.
"We are looking for engineers and drafts people in both civil and construction design capability areas," Mr Cant said.
"Unfortunately, the companies we are replacing have been slowly releasing their staff, and they have already left town," he said.
And it doesn't help that UNE no longer offers a Bachelor of Engineering and technology program after it stopped in 2016.
"There are other opportunities, though, and we have found correspondence is the new way of doing uni since COVID," Mr Cant said.
"We currently have an undergraduate that is studying and working at the same time, and he does a lot of that from home, so that is working out quite well. So we'll have to wait and see.
Mr Cant says he hasn't seen a big rush to live in the regions by professionals in his industry despite recent reports that since COVID, white-collar workers are flocking to lifestyle locations.
"Unfortunately, there is a lot of work out there but not many professional people in the regional areas to do it," he said.
Rowan Donnelly is a partner in New England Surveying & Engineering, and he concurs with Mr Cant's comments on the building boom.
"We haven't been actively advertising for staff, but there is certainly a shortage of engineers," Mr Donnelly said.
"We don't do structural engineering, but we know as far as building works are concerned there does appear to be a shortage because we are often getting enquiries because of a lack of availability; however, it is not something we will be undertaking because it is inherently a higher risk area in terms of the insurance.
"We do surveying and civil engineering design - particularly around all the construction projects and subdivisions. Things like roadworks, sewer, water mains and stormwater - all those sorts of things."
Mr Donnelly said his firm is working on roadwork designs for the 750 million dollar solar project at New England Solar Farm, and there are seven or eight other solar farms that are either in the process of investigation or have been approved for construction in this region.
"There are wind farm and solar farms galore to do with this renewable energy hub," he said.
"It is unprecedented in terms of our experience and workload.
"There has also been a massive increase in residential subdivisions and private industrial developments."
Mr Donnelly said while there are times when he works with other engineers, and New England Surveying & Engineering had worked with Kelley Covey Group on a recent UNE project, there is also overlap, and the companies do compete.
"But at the moment, there seems to be more than enough work to go around," he said.
"There have been recent retirements in the structural engineering side of the industry, and resourcing for the larger projects is difficult when you don't have the right staffing levels."
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