Employment in Australia’s construction industry has hit record highs as a massive program of public infrastructure investment drives huge demand for workers, new data shows.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, detailed quarterly data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that the seasonally adjusted number of workers who are employed in construction rose by 25,800 over three months to go from 1.328 million in August to 1.345 million in November.

At this level, construction employment is up by almost 53,000 workers or 4.1 percent over the twelve months from November 2022.

Not surprisingly, heavy and civil infrastructure has recorded the fastest rate of construction employment growth over the past year.

Whilst this is the smallest classification by employment number (134,600 people employed – not seasonally adjusted), employment in this sector rose by 4.8 percent over the year to November.

This was followed by construction services (848,700 people employed) and building construction (367,200 people employed), in which employment grew by 4.1 percent and 3.6 percent over the year respectively.

Over the longer term, construction industry employment increased by 36 percent over the decade to November and by 76 percent over the two decades to November.

The latest figures come as other data points to continued strong demand for workers in design and construction.

Detailed job vacancy data from Jobs and Skills Australia indicates that as of November, hiring and vacancy levels across the design and construction sector remained extremely high – albeit with vacancies having eased from peak levels over the second half of 2023 (see chart).

Vacancies are high across all sections of the industry ranging from construction management through to design and engineering and trades and labour.

The latest results come as Australia’s construction industry remains exceptionally busy as the nation delivers upon a record program of public sector transport projects as well as a significant upturn in commencements for clean energy projects.

Indeed, in the infrastructure sector, the Public Infrastructure Workforce Supply Dashboard maintained by Infrastructure Australia estimates that the nation has an overall shortage  of 240.400 infrastructure workers as at December.

This is keeping hiring activity strong even as a slowdown in new home approvals is leading to softer demand in residential building.

Going forward, Australian Construction Industry Forum expects employment to remain stable at current elevated levels over the next year.

Encouragingly, the data indicates that efforts to improve the gender balance of the nation’s construction workforce may be bearing fruit.

Ten years ago in November 2013, there were 7.6 men employed for every woman who was employed across the sector.

By last November, that ratio had fallen to 6.1 men for every woman employed.

Put another way, female participation has increased from 11.6 percent of the construction workforce in November 2013 to14.1 percent in November 2023.

This is encouraging as Australia’s construction sector has undertaken significant effort to improve the gender diversity of its workforce over recent years.

For instance, improving female and non-binary participation is a key part of the Construction industry Culture Standard which is being developed by the Australian Constructors Association, the NSW and Victorian Governments and leading workplace researchers.


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