Towns 'struggle to attract engineers'

18:58, May 26 2014
andrew dixon, kevin thompson
OPENING NIGHT: Timaru District Council land transport manager Andrew Dixon, left, and the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand national president Kevin Thompson at the Shaping South Canterbury: Man and Nature, engineering exhibition with a picture of the construction of the Gasmeter in Bank St.

The challenge for Timaru was to attract engineers, the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (Ipenz) national president told a crowd at the opening of an exhibition at South Canterbury Museum last night.

The Shaping South Canterbury: Man and Nature exhibition is produced in conjunction with the local branch of Ipenz as it commemorates its centenary.

National president Kevin Thompson said the younger generation of engineers preferred big city life, making areas like Timaru struggle to fill positions.

"Auckland is growing at the expense of the rest of the country and the lack of engineering skill in Timaru is reflective of that."

One of the big issues of the provincial community he told the Herald was port rationalisation and competition as the future was often dictated by shipping lines.

Another challenge he sees is licensing requirements of building since the Canterbury earthquakes.


During his career Thompson spearheaded transforming government civil works activity into the private sector. He pointed out that though Timaru had no unique engineering a notable feature of engineering in South Canterbury and North Otago was the Waitaki hydro power scheme.

"It is legendary and nationally important," he said.

Engineering has grown from road and bridge or buildings to software, chemical, geotechnical and electronic engineering in the modern world.

To reflect how broad engineering has become from 100 years ago Ipenz is considering changing its name to something with the words, "professional engineers and engineering" to embrace all those who contribute. Currently in consultation with members over the name change Ipenz hopes to launch its new title next year.

Timaru District Council land transport manager Andrew Dixon said though Timaru did not offer the same options as a big city to engineers it does have an attractive lifestyle and enabled young people to enter the housing market as well as being a great place to bring up children.

The Timaru Herald