We all know South Australia needs a lot of homes built fast to combat the housing crisis. But for any houses to be built at all, SA needs people who have a very particular skill set – surveying skills.
That’s why Flinders University will introduce a new Bachelor of Surveying from next year. There are also exciting things happening at the University of South Australia and TAFE SA, to ensure that – with government support – there are more graduates with the surveying and planning skills needed to help SA’s building industry grow.
The new surveying degree means students can now locally acquire the skills needed to become licensed surveyors rather than being forced to study interstate.
So, what are surveyors exactly?
Licensed surveyors are needed to measure and identify property boundaries for construction projects and subdivisions. In SA, all property boundary surveys must be conducted or supervised by a practising licensed surveyor by law. Basically, you need a surveyor’s sign-off to re-establish existing property boundaries or create new ones. For any construction project bigger than a garden shed that requires the identification of a property boundary, a licensed surveyor is required.
Major infrastructure projects rely on surveyors to set out bridges, tunnels and roads, or re-establish existing property boundaries and create new ones. We need surveyors to measure the ocean floor for shipping and determine position and volumes in open-cut and underground mines.
Just how badly do we need more surveyors?
Badly. Licensed surveyors have never been more in demand.
The South Australian Government has released land for 23,700 houses in the short-term to address the housing crisis and estimates Adelaide needs 300,000 new homes built in the next 30 years. (Check out the government’s long-term plan for housing and infrastructure in the Adelaide region here.)
This housing boom means the shortfall in surveyors will reach 1,400 nationally next year, climbing to 2000 by 2029 – which is an average of 1,500 extra surveyors and geospatial professionals required each year to meet national demands (BIS Oxford Economics).
Enter: Flinders’ Bachelor of Surveying!
The Flinders University surveying course will be a four-year double-degree Bachelor of Geospatial Information Systems (BGIS) / Bachelor of Surveying (BSU) with a common first year, meaning first year BGIS students in 2023 can transfer to the second year of the double degree next year.
Applications are now open via SATAC.
Meet Mackinley, future Flinders University surveying student
Mackinley Miller, 20, moved to SA from interstate to play SANFL footy for Glenelg – and to study surveying.
The first year Flinders University BGIS student – who will transfer into the new surveying double-degree next year – got a taste for the profession through helping out in his uncle’s surveying business back in Canberra.
Mackinley likes the fact that surveying is a mix of indoor and outdoor work year-round so it’s never boring.
“If it rains … then there’s still plenty to do in the office. Then when it’s good weather, you can go outside in the field and get things done,” he says.
For those who enjoy those kinds of things, surveyors get to use a lot of cool technology for their job of accurately mapping terrain – think GPS, lasers, drones, and those yellow theodolites on tripods you see surveyors peering through by the side of the road.
Mackinley says it’s also a profession with a lot of variation so “through the experience when you start out you get to see what you like …. decide what’s best for you and … do whatever you enjoy most”. Whether you want to “knock out houses, stay in one place and work on high-rises or travel the world, you’re not going to struggle finding work,” he says.
“It’s definitely worth just giving it a crack,” Mackinley says. “There’ll be work right away with a high wage – basically as soon as you finish or maybe even before you finish this degree,” he says.
It’s not just surveyors – we also need more planners
The nationwide housing crisis means there is serious demand for another profession: SA also needs more urban planners.
Planners are the people who design the communities in which we live, work and play, aiming to improve our quality of life through the creation of vibrant communities.
That’s an important role as Adelaide’s suburbs grow up and out with so many new homes. We need planners to balance the built and natural environments, and identify the infrastructure needed for new communities – as well as identify where new houses will be built.
Because of the housing boom, the National Skills Commission is currently predicting “very strong growth” for the planning profession. There are 16,200 jobs in the sector forecast for 2026, an increase of 18.6 per cent since 2021. For more information on the state of the planning profession, click here.
TAFE SA has introduced a new planning diploma, aiming to bridge the skills gap and fill entry-level vacancies. Strong demand saw all available places in the new planning course’s first intake quickly filled. Graduating students will become paraplanners, assisting local councils’, firms and government urban planners to get their work done and sign off on developments faster.
Applications for next year’s semester one course are now open through SATAC.
On top of that, the University of South Australia has just introduced a new $10,000 grant program in partnership with the State Government to support its existing Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree. The grant money will help pay the tuition fees of five undergraduate students who intend to enrol in the master’s degree.
The university, which offers the only Planning Institute of Australia qualification in SA, also recently introduced a new Bachelor of Architectural Studies pathway, allowing students to progress directly into the Master of Urban and Regional Planning.
Meet Valeria, UniSA Master of Planning student
Valeria Guajardo Lozano, 26, is in her second year of UniSA’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree and says she wants to use planning to tackle social inequalities – especially homelessness.
Because she moved to Adelaide from Mexico City when she was 11, Valeria’s experienced two urban environments that “function very differently”. But she says she has been struck in both places by “the inequalities and how the way cities are designed has an effect on people’s ability to access housing and other services.
“Obviously, that was more apparent in Mexico, but it’s an issue here as well. I’ve always had a strong interest in social issues …so that part of it drove me into planning,” she says.
Valeria has volunteered with Vinnie’s Fred’s Van, providing outreach service to Adelaide’s homeless community and says “that really opened my eyes to what the situation is really like”. She says it’s not a lack of resources but “the lack of willingness across all levels to tackle the issue [of homelessness]” that is the biggest hurdle to change.
“And I think planning as a profession is situated in a way where we can have an impact at different levels, from the way we engage with people and communities, to the higher level policy, which at the end of the day is what informs how our cities grow,” she says.
Why study planning?
Valeria says she has always been “super interested in cities and how they function – how people relate to place is really interesting to me.”
After completing her undergraduate studies in architecture, Valeria realised she was more interested in “the bigger issues that [planning] deals with, the systems of how land is used, how communities are created, and how we have to continuously adapt to the current issues and the changing technologies”.
“There are different levels [to planning] and I like that it’s very broad in terms of what kind of work you can specialise in, whether it’s the policy and legislation, or the social, transport or environmental planning, it’s super interdisciplinary and that makes it exciting,” she says.
Planning is a profession for everyone who wants to “get to be involved with how your city’s shaped, how it functions and how the urban environment affects the way people live, work and play … because that’s very, very important,” she says. Plus, “cities will always continue to grow and evolve and that’s exciting… there’s always going to be a demand for planners, especially now as we deal with big challenges like this housing crisis and climate change.”