Representatives from the construction industry, local government and UNSW Canberra have met in Canberra to identify the research and tertiary education courses that will be required to enable the ACT and surrounding regions to meet their net zero emissions targets.

Hosted by UNSW Canberra’s Sustainable Infrastructure Group the ‘Capital Region Infrastructure for a Net Zero Future’ roundtable event was aimed at improving engagement between universities, government and industry to overcome the bigger issues facing the construction and infrastructure sectors.

The co-ordinator of UNSW Canberra’s Sustainable Infrastructure Group, Dr Safat Al-Deen said the research carried out by UNSW Canberra will support government and the construction and infrastructure sectors to address the challenges that will be faced in achieving net zero emissions.

“The next 20 years will throw up many difficult challenges in relation to implementing net zero emission policies, the circular economy, and managing extreme weather events linked to climate change,” Dr Al-Deen said.

“The roundtable event brought together government, academic and private sector representatives so that we can all better understand the construction and infrastructure challenges facing the Capital Region with both the ACT and NSW Governments having set their respective 2045 and 2050 net zero emissions targets.

“It’s really important that we hear directly from Government and industry to identify the challenges they are facing now or will likely face in the future.

“This direct consultation is crucial for directing our research and education efforts towards finding effective, workable, real-world solutions.”

Adrian Piani from GHD and former ACT Chief Engineer attended the roundtable and said collaboration between UNSW Canberra, Capital Region and ACT Governments, and local construction businesses is essential to tackle the challenges related to achieving net zero.

"Local problems require local solutions, so having all the key local stakeholders talking and working together on the issues we’ll face in the path towards net zero is really important,” Mr Piani said.

Dr Al-Deen said the roundtable event covered the important topic of workforce capability and capacity in the construction and infrastructure industries, noting the Capital Region is facing a shortage of engineering skills.

“Both government and industry in the Capital Region are struggling to retain engineers,” Dr Al-Deen said.

“One area that was discussed is that our engineering higher degree research graduates and recent migrant engineers encounter difficulties securing relevant employment, so there is room for a solution to be found regarding the attraction and retention of engineers.

“We want to help bridge this gap by identifying the essential skills needed for employment and offering tertiary courses to equip engineers with the necessary expertise, making them job ready.”

The roundtable event included representatives from the ACT Government, the local construction industry, Capital Region local councils and UNSW Canberra.