As the building industry gears up for another big year, demand for professionals within the construction sector throughout Australia is running hot, a leading recruitment specialist says.

Hays Construction business director Ronan Mulry says the industry is experiencing extremely high levels of activity especially in the residential sector, and that demand was running hot in specific states for professionals across a number of disciplines including project managers, commercial contract administrators, residential building supervisors, project engineers, structures forepersons and finishes forepersons.

“Residential Site Managers with high rise experience are highly sought after,” Mulry said. “New apartment sales hit a decade high in Australia in 2014 while a swathe of new medium and high-density housing projects were approved in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. This means that the construction boom will continue in 2015, creating jobs for Residential Site Managers.”

“Contract Administrators with a good level of experience are in demand. Commercial construction is on the increase, especially in high rise residential buildings. A significant number of commercial office staff moved from Queensland to New South Wales in 2013 and this has now left the region with a shortage of suitable candidates…” he noted, adding that “Due to the surge in residential developments in 2014, the competition for experienced high-rise Finishes Forepersons is at unprecedented levels. In both the residential and commercial sectors the competition for experienced Structures Forepersons continues to pick up.”

Mulry’s comments come as a period of extremely strong activity in construction has driven demand for construction workers to record highs. The latest seasonally adjusted estimates from the ABS put the number of workers employed throughout the sector during the three months to November at 1.054 billion – more than 50,000 higher compared with the previous corresponding estimate one year earlier.

Mulry said those with real site experience (especially with large-scale residential developments) are highly sought after, while building firms were increasingly expecting commercial staff such as project managers, contract administrators and estimators to be system driven with experience across multiple software platforms that include Buildsoft, Cheops, Jobpac, Project Centre and Acconex.

He said demand for permanent staff is strong, while that for contractors will grow throughout the year.

“As we start the year there is strong consistent demand for people on a permanent basis as companies look to staff their projects strategically,” Mulry said. “However, as the year progresses and demand increases for skilled staff, contractors who are available on an immediate basis will be very much in demand.”

Where the hot jobs are

According to Mulry:

  • High levels of activity on large infrastructure and commercial urban development projects along with a booming residential market is driving strong demand for construction professionals across all disciplines in New South Wales, with high rise residential and commercial experience being sought after the most. Experienced site managers, contract administrators and estimators can expect to have a range of choices if they enter the job market.
  • While the infrastructure and commercial sectors are not as buoyant in Victoria as in New South Wales, there is still reasonable demand in residential projects as Melbourne has several very large apartment complexes currently in planning and construction.
  • Project managers with experience working on developments valued between $5 million and 10 million are highly sought after in Western Australia amid a huge demand for residential properties in Perth ranging from single, double or triple-storey dwellings to high rise apartment projects.
  • Thanks to a loss of workers to interstate migration during the recent building downturn, candidate shortages are now emerging in Queensland amid a stronger market and growing investment in commercial and residential land development, which is expected to see higher levels of construction activity this year. Project managers and commercial administrators are being sought after on a permanent basis, while a modest upturn in demand for temporary staff on smaller residential projects is expected to begin early in the year.