For 20 years there’s been a severe surveyor shortage with predictions Australia will fall short by 1,400 surveyors by 2024 and 2,000 by 2029 annually.
But one way the shortage is being addressed is through organisations like the NSW Surveying Taskforce holding Maths in Surveying field days for high school students.
They allow industry professionals to showcase the profession to the students and teachers that attend, while also allowing local media outlets to come down and spread the word in the community, said Maths in Surveying founder Ian Iredale.
After 12 successful years in Sydney, the NSW Surveying Taskforce brought the field day to Tamworth on August 2, with 70 to 80 students from seven schools across the New England in attendance.
Local surveyor Peter Baxter guiding students through a field activity.
They started their day with astronomy related activities including observing daylight Stars, understanding phases of the moon, and understanding Ancient Greek methods to determine distances between the Sun, Moon, and Earth before heading outside to learn contour mapping, and practical applications of mathematics.
When it comes to surveying, many people aren’t aware of its diverse nature and its ability to provide a mix of both field and office work and take them around the world including Antarctica.
“There’s a wide variety of different surveying types like land boundaries, engineering projects where you’re building bridges and dams, and even hydrographic surveying which maps the sea floor. The list goes on,” Ian said.
“There’s also opportunities to travel with Australian surveyors wanted all around the world.”
Local Tamworth surveyor and the NSW President of the Institution of Surveyors, Mitch Hanlon, said the event is all about real world applications.
“They get to learn that maths isn’t just on the whiteboard, it has actual real-world applications,” he said.
For New England Grammar School student Ruby Holgait, it was this real-world application that made surveying so interesting.
“I didn’t know what surveying even was but as soon as we started getting involved with the activities, I realised how interesting it was,” she said.
Although Ruby said surveying isn’t the right fit fir her, she said she can see herself suggesting it to others who are more inclined to follow the STEM pathway.
Both Ian and Mitch are optimistic the industry will recover with time thanks to programs like these but also because of how socially connected the younger generation are.
“The generation entering the industry now are so socially connected and they bring new ways to communicate and connect,” said Mitch.
“I’m the old guy now and I don’t mind that because we all have stories to share that will benefit the industry.”
As for Ian and his Maths in Surveying Day program, he believes it has made some small inroads but ultimately even if it doesn’t get people into surveying, it will hopefully get them to follow a STEM career.