TASWATER CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT OFFICE - TENDERING AND HIRING PRACTICES
Ms ARMITAGE asked the Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council, Mrs Hiscutt -
(a) What are the CDO's engineering workforce needs and how does it plan to recruit and develop this workforce?
(b) What information does the CDO have on the numbers of engineers needed as it relates to the operations of TasWater?
(c) Are there any diversity objectives, including targets or quotas?
(d) What is the primary source of qualified engineers for the CDO from local employers or from interstate?
(a) Does the CDO take steps to engage local, Tasmania-based engineers and engineering firms in their recruitment processes.
(b) If not, why not?
(3) What is the expected contribution of TasWater and the CDO, as an organisation which develops large capital works with significant engineering aspects, to the development of an engineering workforce in Tasmania?
(4) If contracting local businesses remains a priority of the CDO, as the TasWater website states, what percentage of work goes to large, multidisciplinary firms from interstate?
(5) Can TasWater and the CDO justify the financial cost of hiring larger firms and paying them to undertake work in Tasmania?
(6) How does the CDO assess and maintain high-quality competence and capability for its engineers?
(7) Does the CDO understand the negative impact that overlooking local, Tasmania-based engineers has on the engineering sector in Tasmania?
The incorporated answer reads as follows -
The answers to these questions from the honourable member are provided by the Government, taken on advice from TasWater, which as members would be aware is almost entirely owned by shareholders in local government, with a 2 per cent equity owned by the Tasmanian Government.
The core business of the TasWater Capital Delivery Office - CDO - is to ensure cost effective and timely delivery of quality capital works projects for TasWater that will meet the needs of TasWater's business and those of the Tasmanian community for years to come.
TasWater established the CDO to manage its capital works program from inception to completion, including the planning, design, procurement and delivery phases. The TasWater CDO appoints consultants and designers to assist with the pre-construction stages and construction contractors for the implementation.The TasWater CDO does not carry out the actual construction work at project sites; this is undertaken by contractors with the appropriate skills and capability.
Following a competitive tender processm an alliance was formed between TasWater, CPB Contractors Limited, UGL Limited and WSP Australia Pty Limited to form the TasWater CDO. Most of the roles within the CDO are filled by TasWater employees.
(a) TasWater's CDO forecasted requirements for engineers are based on projects identified for completion by TasWater throughout the initial four-year agreement. The engineering opportunities comprise a broad range of engineering disciplines. The number of engineers required will reflect TasWater's capital works program project requirements.
It should be noted that TasWater has recently embarked on an engineering recruitment campaign via a recruitment agency. The vacancies were initially advertised in Tasmania before being advertised, and filled, nationally. This highlights the current shortage of available, suitably qualified, engineering applicants within the Tasmanian Engineering sector.
Initially all TasWater CDO vacancies are advertised internally within TasWater and each of the other alliance partners. If this is unsuccessful, a nominated alliance partner will advertise externally irrespective of location although naturally preference will be given to suitably qualified Tasmanian candidates. The TasWater CDO wishes to promote opportunities for suitable local professionals to build a sustainable TasWater CDO team with a shared longterm vision that meets the projected water infrastructure needs of the Tasmanian community.
Hiring local candidates wherever possible is in the interest of the alliance as it is more cost effective and supports the local economy. However, the TasWater CDO does not wish to engage in headhunting or poaching local talent - i.e. engineers who are already contributing to the Tasmanian economy via the work they currently do.
(b) The engineers required for the TasWater CDO do not impact on the broader operational requirements of TasWater.
This is a program of projects, therefore the number of engineers required will fluctuate through the life of the capital work program. Consequently, not all engineers will be required throughout the initial four years of the alliance agreement and some may be engaged to work on specialised project specific requirements.
Diversity and inclusion
The TasWater CDO employs a diverse team and is committed to improving the diversity and gender balance within the engineering workforce and the wider CDO. The engineering profession continues to exhibit a predominantly male profile both in Tasmania and elsewhere.
The TasWater CDO is in the process of finalising its Diversity and Inclusion Strategy which includes targets to increase the number of females employed, including engineers. Currently 21 per cent of the workforce is made up of women, including female engineers with a commitment to increasing female representation in this industry.
The Diversity and Inclusion Strategy includes proactively employing engineers of both genders and then supporting them by offering flexible working arrangements, mentoring support and professional development opportunities. Efforts focused in this area will be particularly helpful to attract more women into the industry.
TasWater CDO's Social Responsibility Plan defines how sustainable employment and economic development opportunities are created to support disadvantaged groups within Tasmanian.
The TasWater CDO commits to equipping employees, trainees, contractors and other businesses it works with the necessary capability and skills for deployment on -
Future projects within the CDO
Opportunities within TasWater more broadly.
Other employment and project opportunities within Tasmania.
CDO graduate program
There is a longstanding and close relationship with University of Tasmania, through the TasWater scholarship program that has been in place for over 20 years. The CDO currently employs one scholarship recipient who is an engineer.
There is also a TasWater internship program in place. The CDO internship program is a subset of the TasWater program. The CDO has employed five interns, three of whom have been retained as ongoing casual employees. Two out of the five were Tasmanian Indigenous students.
TasWater's graduate program is being refreshed; graduates will be canvassed later this year with a view to placement in 2021. TasWater CDO currently employs six graduates.
Migrant internship program
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the TasWater CDO was working with the Department of State Growth and the Tasmanian Employment Networking Service -TENS - to develop and implement an internship program for migrant engineers.
The migrant internship program will be revisited when the COVID-19 situation is resolved. It is envisaged that participating engineers can potentially access 'on the job' paid experience in several areas of the TasWater CDO. This is similar to the current undergraduate internship program. This initiative would benefit individuals and align with government policy and TasWater's commitment to diversity.
(d) The primary source of engineers upon the set up of the TasWater CDO was the transfer of internal TasWater employees, and these remain the majority of engineering staff within the CDO. Since then, TasWater's CDO has welcomed additional local engineers along with others from outside Tasmania.
As previously stated, TasWater's CDO Alliance partners are appointing local Tasmanian candidates to vacancies within the CDO where suitable local professionals are available at the time the roles are advertised.
(a) If a suitable candidate is not found within the Alliance, which includes TasWater, TasWater's CDO advertises each vacancy within the Tasmanian marketplace irrespective of which Alliance partner has been nominated as the hiring entity.
(b) See answer above; this does not apply.
(3) TasWater and TasWater's CDO aim to contribute to the development of the engineering workforce within Tasmanian by:
Providing employment opportunities to Tasmanian candidates within the engineering sector where suitably qualified candidates can be found.
Providing structured personal and professional development pathways for all TasWater CDO employees, including engineers, which increases the skills and capability of individuals.
Building future leaders.
Continuing with the successful Graduate, Internship and Migrant Internship and Scholarship programs.
As part of TasWater's long term investment plan, TasWater CDO provides employees, including engineers, with exposure to, and experience in, delivering a diverse range of projects from small value, less complex projects, to highly complex, major projects.
Providing a workplace that encourages and promotes diversity, inclusion and social responsibility.
TasWater's CDO is committed to working with its supply chain of designers, consultants and contractors to deliver TasWater's long term investment plan to the benefit of TasWater's customers.
(4) Of the contracts awarded by the TasWater CDO to date, 84 per cent of the business has been awarded to local Tasmanian firms. The TasWater CDO remains committed to providing local employment opportunities.
This high percentage of locally awarded works reflects the fact that local Tasmanian firms should have natural cost advantage. As is the case with the rest of the world, local firms tend to be more cost effective to employ so will always be considered if the appropriate skill sets are available.
The alliance is committed to leaving a legacy for TasWater, related workforce providers and suppliers as well as TasWater customers. TasWater CDO is introducing new technologies, sharing knowledge and upskilling delivery partners by sharing expertise, increasing safety, quality and environmental standards throughout the project life-cycles.
(5) TasWater and TasWater CDO are conscious of establishing an appropriate balance to ensure the TasWater's capital works program can be delivered cost effectively.
In this larger capital works program, some of the projects are of a scale not previously undertaken by TasWater e.g. the Bryn Estyn Water Treatment Plant Upgrade to the value of circa $200 million. Therefore, it is appropriate that TasWater by way of its CDO, utilise the services of the most highly capable service providers who demonstrate proven expertise and experience in delivering projects of this complexity and scale.
The justification for utilising the services of these providers is that ultimately, this benefits the TasWater workforce by way of exposure to new and improved work practices the benefit of which flows on to Tasmania in future endeavours.
Assessing competence and capability
TasWater CDO conducts a rigorous recruitment process. The selection panel typically consists of an engineering leader, an engineering subject matter expert and a human resources professional.
Applicants are assessed on their technical skills, appropriate experience and their educational qualifications but also on their cultural team fit.
Maintain competence and capability
All TasWater CDO team members participate in an annual performance and development review process. Any competency gaps are identified, individual development plans are formulated and applied.
Developing our engineering leaders
TasWater CDO engineering leaders, existing and emerging, can undertake leadership development programs, including participation in the broader TasWater leadership and coaching programs.
Other professional development activities
The TasWater CDO team is supported to undertake various technical training programs including courses offered through Engineers Australia such as 'Safety in Design.'
Employees also participate in internal professional development programs such as 'Lunch & Learn' sessions where for example, Engineers Australia has provided guest presenters. A competency matrix for all teams within the TasWater CDO is currently under development. This includes engineers and non-engineers.
TasWater CDO is also developing career pathways to include technician level roles.
(7) Does the CDO understand the negative impact that overlooking local, Tasmania- based engineers has on the engineering sector in Tasmania?
As demonstrated in the previous responses, the TasWater CDO is constructively seeking to recruit and develop local engineers and other contracted services.
Two-thirds of the existing organisations on the TasWater CDO consultancy panel are local Tasmanian companies.
The CDO is preparing a local industry participation plan to aid in the support of local businesses.
The desired outcome is to build, develop and maintain a highly skilled engineering workforce. A concerted effort is made to maintain a balance between giving opportunities to local talent without disrupting or harming the local engineering sector.