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Skilled construction professionals are in massive demand throughout Australia as record levels of building activity feed through to record levels of employment within the sector.

In its latest report, recruitment firm Hays talks of a worker shortage across several areas.

This follows the release of ABS data in September which put the number of people employed throughout the construction sector at a record 1.168 million (seasonally adjusted).

This means the sector has added more than 100,000 workers to its payroll over the past 12 months alone.

“Australia’s construction industry remains a strong economic driver, with continued staffing demand and vacancy activity – although levels of activity do vary based on location,” Hays said in its report.

“But as our recently released 2017 Hays Global Skills Index shows, Australia’s talent mismatch between the skills jobseekers possess and those employers want has grown wider over the past year. As the following ‘skills in demand’ show (see below), we’re seeing a shortage of suitable skills across the industry.

“This has seen Australia’s overall score return to 5.5, a figure not seen since 2013 and one that is indicative of increased pressure in the job market – i.e., it’s harder to secure the right talent now than it was a year ago.”

In general, Hays said strong residential activity is stimulating demand for project managers, construction managers and contract administrators.

State by state, Hays says conditions and skills in demand are as follows:

New South Wales

With booming activity across all three major sectors (residential/commercial/civil), conditions within the New South Wales construction sector are extremely buoyant. In the residential sector, the Sydney Housing Supply Forecasts shows that a whopping 180,000 new homes will be constructed throughout Sydney over the next five years. Meanwhile, the commercial market is busy with office and retail projects underway as well as hospital and private school refurbishment whilst the civil market is being driven by Sydney Metro, Sydney Light Rail and the Parramatta Light Rail.

In all this, site managers are in massive shortage as are forepersons, project engineers, contract administrators and estimators. Demand also exists for senior site managers and site managerssenior project engineers with large-scale construction experience and structures forepersons and finishes forepersons with high-rise apartment project experience.

Australian Capital Territory

High levels of activity are also evident in the ACT, where skilled workers are being head-hunted and salaries are rising as work is being driven by the $700 million light rail project and associated commercial and residential work. A strong civil market continues with a number of subdivisions, land releases and road duplications, whilst activity in the residential sector is being helped along by high levels of construction in townhouse and small unit developments.

Project managers and site managers on medium to high-rise residential projects are in shortage as are contract administrators (severe shortage), civil forepersons and project forepersons, fit-out forepersons to work on refurbishment of old buildings and new building fit-outs as well as site managers and supervisors for multiple residential and commercial projects.

Victoria

Activity in Victoria remains busy courtesy of work on commercial buildings, apartments, aged care and education facilities. High-rise development in the Melbourne CBD is extremely buoyant, whilst there are numerous apartment projects going in the suburbs. As well, there are high levels of civil activity on road and rail projects.

As a result, position in demand include:

  • infrastructure design professionals across highways and roads (local experience preferred but overseas candidates considered)
  • All levels of engineers from site engineers through to project engineers and project managers for projects ranging from roads to rail and land development
  • Within the commercial sector, experienced contract administrators, project managers, site managers, project engineers and quality cadets with project experience across apartments, healthcare, education, aged care, commercial, retail and airports.

Queensland

In Queensland, Hays says the domestic housing market in Brisbane remains strong with a significant number of land releases and commercial building activity is ticking over with a number of retail upgrades, school packages and community infrastructure projects.

Elsewhere, activity on the Gold Coast is being driven by residential construction and the 2018 Commonwealth Games, whilst that on the Sunshine Coast is expected to be helped along by a reasonably buoyant commercial and residential market in coming years and the civil construction market is lifting with greater investment in mining infrastructure, roads and bulk earthworks.

Roles in demand include:

  • civil project engineers for multiple roles on the Sunshine Coast
  • commercial estimators also for multiple roles on the Sunshine Coast
  • commercial site managers as multiple unit developments commence construction this quarter
  • traffic design engineers on the Gold Coast to cater for a huge amount of traffic redirection taking place as a result of construction work and Commonwealth Games visitor preparation
  • project managers for water and waste assets in response to upgrades to public utilities and an increase in construction and infrastructure projects
  • roads engineers for major road works both on the Gold Coast and across Northern NSW
  • estimators, with employers wanting quality candidates when tendering to ensure they cover all areas of a bid
  • contracts administrators to monitor contract compliance and variations
  • site managers for commercial projects on the Gold Coast
  • estimators with proven success on commercial projects in Brisbane
  • contract administrators with post-graduate experience in the city.

Western Australia

Whilst Western Australia’s construction market is generally quiet overall, reasonably high levels of civil construction arising out of highways extension and the airport link are underpinning demand for civil supervisors, project managers and estimators.

In commercial, there is some need for project managers, forepersons, estimators and plumbing and mechanical project managers thanks to a number of $100 million tier one projects in the Perth CBD.

South Australia

In South Australia, activity has increased on medium density apartment building in Adelaide and commercial building whilst significant road upgrades will boost the civil market in coming years.

Project managers with $20 million plus project experience are in demand as are estimators and contract administrators with five or more years of commercial experience.

Civil project engineers, sites engineers, project managers and contract administrators are all heavily in demand, as are residential sales estimators and site supervisors with volume or custom build experience.

Tasmania

With the $2 billion refurbishment of the Hobart Hospital, renovation of Parliament Square and Myer stage 1 and 2 as well as civil investment in roads infrastructure, major supermarket project, nursing homes in the north and the roll-out of the National Broadband Network, Tasmania is experiencing its busiest construction period of the last decade.

On the blue-collar side, there is a lack of trade qualified refrigeration technicians, HVAC specialists and carpenters, whilst within the white-collar space, experienced project managers in civil and building are in demand.

Northern Territory

Whilst activity in the Northern Territory has contracted as work on the Ichthys gas project is coming toward a close, there is some activity happening amid $2 billion worth of investment in defence housing, infrastructure and commercial development and $1 billion worth of land releases.

Experienced commercial project managers are in demand in Darwin whilst estimators are sought after in Darwin across civil, commercial and residential construction and civil supervisors are required on a number of remote projects.

 
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