image of a construction engineering team on a work site

The construction and engineering sector in Australia holds substantial economic importance, contributing around $360 billion annually, representing 10% of the country’s GDP. In 2024, amidst the ongoing digital shift, engineering professionals are leading innovation efforts, utilizing digital tools to enhance efficiency and productivity in project completion. 

In the construction and engineering field, digitalization has transformed traditional practices, requiring professionals to adapt their skills and mindsets. Reskilling the Australian engineering workforce is crucial for long-term growth and competitiveness in the industry as we progress through the digital era. 

However, while the benefits of digitalization are undeniable, the journey towards embracing these advancements is not without its challenges. As engineering projects become increasingly complex and technology-driven, the demand for a digitally skilled workforce is more pressing than ever.  

This Q&A session with industry experts from PlanRadar delves into the nuances of reskilling Australian engineers for the digital age, exploring strategies, insights, and best practices to navigate this transformative period effectively. 

What are the key digital skills Australian engineers need in today’s workforce? 

Leon Ward: We’re increasingly seeing that Australian engineers need to excel in data analytics to extract insights from project data and improve decision-making for effective project implementation. Proficiency in Building Information Modelling (BIM) is also essential for fostering collaboration, visualization, and project alignment. Importantly, alongside digital literacy skills, a robust cybersecurity awareness is critical in order for Australian engineers to protect project data from cyber risks effectively. 

Vitaly Berezka: Effective communication skills are vital for Australian engineers to convey intricate technical ideas clearly to various stakeholders involved in projects. Being adaptable to emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is essential for Australian engineers to improve project visualization and engage stakeholders effectively. It’s also very important for Australian engineers to focus on mastering digital project management tools to enhance project efficiency, monitor progress, and guarantee punctual project completion in the current dynamic landscape. 

How is the role of engineers evolving in the digital age? 

Leon Ward: Over the past five years, engineers and engineering teams are shifting from more conventional duties to acting as digital integrators, using technology to improve project results and making proactive, rather than reactive decisions. In tandem with an increasingly digital-literate and tech-savvy workforce and shifting ways of working, engineering managers are evolving into data-focused decision-makers, using analytics and machine learning to boost project efficiency and manage risks effectively. As a result, we’re seeing that engineers now play a broader role beyond only technical skills. 

Vitaly Berezka: Due to the increasing emergence of automation and adoption of artificial intelligence, engineers are dedicating more of their time to strategic planning and problem-solving, entrusting more routine tasks to technology. We are noting that engineers are increasingly working in tandem with cross-functional teams, such as software developers and data scientists, to utilize digital tools in resolving more complex project issues. These tools allow engineering teams to amplify client interaction with greater capabilities for real-time communication and information sharing. 

What are the main challenges Australian engineers face when transitioning to digital tools? What are the potential barriers to reskilling efforts in the Australian engineering workforce? 

Leon Ward: Australian engineers can face a number of challenges when adopting digital tools, primarily due to the initial investment, upskilling and change management costs, which can be a barrier for smaller firms. Resistance to change within traditional engineering practices is also a significant hurdle to reskilling efforts, as some teams may be hesitant to adopt new technologies. There has also been a lack of access to quality training programs customized for Australian engineers’ requirements, so this can impede their transition to digital tools and methodologies. 

Vitaly Berezka: There are often significant potential challenges regarding data privacy and security, when incorporating new digital tools into a team’s work processes. The fast progression of technology demands continuous upskilling, which can be stressful for engineers trying to stay updated with the latest digital developments. The noted absence of standardized industry frameworks for assessing digital proficiency can often complicate the process of evaluating engineers’ digital skill levels and determining areas that may need enhancement. 

How can engineering firms effectively integrate digital technologies into their workflows? 

Leon Ward: To initiate the digital transformation process, engineering teams should begin with thorough technology assessments to pinpoint areas where digital tools can optimize their operations. From there, they can prioritize the implementation of these tools based on the assessment outcomes. By also promoting an innovative environment and a culture of ongoing learning, engineering firms can motivate their teams to adopt digital technologies, offering necessary training and assistance for a smoother integration process. Partnering with technology experts and industry professionals can be helpful in this instance, allowing engineering firms to tap into more specialized expertise and resources. This aides in the tailored integration of digital solutions that can cater to their unique requirements. 

Vitaly Berezka: Engineering firms can also effectively integrate digital tools by adopting a phased approach, commencing with pilot projects and then progressively expanding to test these tools in practical settings and enhance processes through feedback. As discussed above, prioritizing investments in strong cybersecurity measures is crucial for engineering firms seeking to securely implement digital technologies. So consistently assessing and modernizing digital infrastructure is key to maintaining adaptability for engineering firms amidst changing technological landscapes and industry demands – while also protecting project data and intellectual assets. 

What are the common misconceptions about digital transformation in engineering? 

Leon Ward: A prevalent misconception suggests that digital transformation displaces human proficiency; however, it actually amplifies engineers’ skills by automating repetitive or time-consuming ‘busy’ tasks, enabling teams and specialists to dedicate more time to strategic work and analytics. Contrary to the belief that digital transformation is a single investment, it is actually an ongoing process necessitating constant adjustment to new tools and industry developments.  

Vitaly Berezka: The term ‘digital transformation’ is often associated only with larger engineering firms, yet small and mid-sized companies can also experience substantial advantages by utilizing digital tools to improve efficiency and boost their competitiveness. While some fear job displacement due to digital transformation in the engineering sector, the reality is that it opens doors for new upskilling opportunities and career growth in emerging digital roles. 

Looking ahead, what trends do you foresee shaping the future of digital reskilling in Australian engineering? 

Leon Ward: The rise of personalized online learning platforms (and ones specific to engineering fields) is becoming more widespread, which help to provide tailored reskilling options that can flexibly accommodate individual learning styles and timetables. The incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning into reskilling platforms is also helping to transform adaptive learning, enabling engineers to access personalized suggestions and immediate feedback to enhance their learning progress. 

Vitaly Berezka: Over the past five years, the shift towards hybrid work is anticipated to highlight the importance of virtual collaboration tools and remote training sessions – meaning engineers have the flexibility to access reskilling materials from any location with internet connectivity. There is also a rise in project-oriented reskilling programs, offering engineers hands-on experience through participation in real projects guided by industry experts.  

What advice do you have for engineering professionals who are hesitant to embrace digitalization? 

Leon Ward: We recommend beginning by experimenting with one digital tool at a time, to build familiarity before progressing to more advanced tools. It’s often worthwhile to seek guidance from peers who have effectively incorporated digital tools into their routines, learning insights from their own learning journeys and strategies. We do acknowledge that resistance to change can be common, but embracing digitalization early equips engineers to adjust and excel in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. 

Vitaly Berezka: Take advantage of training opportunities provided by employers or professional organizations, investing in continuous learning to stay ahead of the curve in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. Engineers who are currently hesitant to embrace digitalization should consider the long-term benefits it offers, such as improved efficiency, enhanced collaboration, and increased skill competency in an increasingly competitive job market. 


About Leon Ward 

Leon Ward serves as the Digital Construction Specialist at PlanRadar, bringing extensive expertise in electrical, mining, and project management garnered over a span of more than ten years. 

With a comprehensive understanding of the challenges associated with obtaining precise and timely data from field operations to the back office, Leon has built up invaluable insight experience to address these obstacles effectively. 

Leveraging his comprehensive knowledge and extensive industry experience, Leon provides indispensable insights and direction in construction management and process enhancement. Having contributed to numerous notable projects across Australia, his work is highly regarded by clients, teams, and audiences due to his hands-on and customer-centric approach in integrating technology seamlessly into the construction industry. At PlanRadar, he leads Australia’s construction digitization efforts, driving innovation through smart SaaS solutions. 

About Vitaly Berezka 

Vitaly Berezka is leading business development across Central Asia, MENA and APAC regions for the prominent construction and real estate software company PlanRadar.  

With an engineering degree in construction, Vitaly as well holds an executive degree in business administration. His experience in the real estate development and construction industry spans more than 15 years. Since 2013, he has held management positions in international companies that provide innovative solutions to the construction and real estate industries.  

Besides lecturing on digitalization topics at universities, he is the author of scientific publications and the co-author of three books. Vitaly is a member of International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI). 


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