Skilled construction professionals are in massive demand for work on civil infrastructure projects as the focus of opportunities switches from residential building to the booming infrastructure market, the latest report says.
Releasing the latest version of its Hotspot of Skills in Demand: Jan-June 2019 report, recruitment agency Hays says the civil infrastructure market offers massive opportunities for skilled professionals as governments ramp up work on civil infrastructure projects to cater for growing levels of population growth.
In its report, Hays pointed to several indicators of a booming civil market.
In transport, the Federal Government pledged a whopping $75 billion over the next ten years for transport infrastructure alone, it points out.
Thanks largely to civil projects, the most recent edition of the Rider Levitt Bucknall Crane Index shows that a record 735 cranes were dotting Australian skylines, it adds.
“Australia’s booming civil infrastructure market will remain the star performer of the construction sector this half thanks to our nation’s growing population,” Hays said in its report.
Beyond civil construction, Hays says opportunities are opening up in commercial building.
Thanks to a significant pipeline of work, meanwhile, opportunities remain in residential construction despite a pull-back in new apartment projects in that sector.
Thanks to all this, Hays says vacancy activity will remain positive overall in 2019, although it stresses that the hotspots of skills in demand will vary by location.
Around Australia, the construction jobs market has been extremely strong over recent years amid record levels of new home and apartment construction and massive levels of investments on the part of federal and state governments in civil infrastructure.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that 1.165 million people were employed in construction over the three months to November.
This is down slightly from the 1.170 million employed during the same period last year and is off the record 1.191 million in the three months to February (seasonally adjusted), but still represents a gain of almost 100,000 jobs over the past two years.
Whilst work the residential construction market is expected to slow over time as the pipeline of existing work is eventually worked through, however, the civil construction market remains extremely buoyant.
Hotspots of Demand
According to Hays, hotspots of demand are as follows:
New South Wales
Skilled Supervisors, Project Engineers and Estimators with experience in tunnelling, roads and rail projects will remain in demand in Sydney. There is a general shortage of candidates with the required tenure to satisfy demand.
Sales Estimators who can price or write tenders for project homes are required.
A shortage of Production Estimators who can accurately estimate the required materials and labour is also evident.
Contract Administrators, Project Engineers and Site Managers with experience in large health, institutional and commercial projects are sought.
Contract Administrators with fit-out experience are needed too as existing office space across Sydney is refurbished.
Structures Forepersons are also sought. With no slowdown in large tier two projects in sight, such candidates are in short supply.
Pre-Construction Officers are in short supply too since few administrators possess the necessary technical DA/CDC knowledge and understand council requirements.
The Newcastle and Hunter Valley region continues to see increased demand for Contract Administrators with experience in both residential and commercial building due to the volume of developments across the region.
Estimators are needed too for both residential and high-value commercial projects.
Candidates with high-rise residential experience are also sought given the volume of high-rise residential developments underway in Newcastle and Gosford.
Project Managers with commercial building experience on projects between $20m and $50m are in high demand too due to an increase in these projects across Newcastle and the Hunter
Victoria’s construction market remains buoyant. Infrastructure is driving vacancy activity with projects such as the Melbourne Metro Rail demanding staff. New residential projects are adding to activity, while the commercial construction sector has picked up.
As a result, construction professionals at all levels are in demand, from high-level Design Engineers to experienced Delivery Engineers on roads, tunnels, bridges and rail.
Construction Engineers with rail and road experience are also required given current project activity.
The construction building industry is very healthy, particularly in education and health. All construction skills are in demand, from Site Forepersons to Project Engineers and Project Managers.
Given the amount of available land in Victoria, the medium density housing market also remains busy as new communities are built.
Queensland’s construction jobs market will be active this half.
Looking firstly at civil construction, candidates with Transport and Main Roads (TMR) experience are in growing demand as companies act to fulfil their tender requirements. In particular demand are Project Managers with 10 years of experience, Site Engineers with at least two years of experience and Project Engineers with at least five years of experience on TMR projects. Add federally funded major projects across the region, such as the Bruce Highway update (CR2SM) and the Logan Enhancement Project, and demand for these candidates will remain high this half.
Rail is another active area. South East Queensland has lost some civil professionals to Sydney’s Metro project, but with three Queensland-based rail projects planned (Inland Rail, Cross River Rail and Brisbane Metro) the supply of experienced candidates will fail to meet demand.
In the commercial market, Site Managers with experience working on $20m+ projects and Project Managers and Directors who have worked on $100m+ projects are in short supply. With a growing number of high value projects underway or soon to commence, such as Queens Wharf Brisbane, the Gabba stadium upgrade, Brisbane Live entertainment precinct, the Redevelopment of Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct and multiple train station upgrades, demand will remain high.
Turning to the residential market, insurance builders continue to look for strong Site Supervisors and Estimators. Residential architectural and small lot Supervisors will be another area of demand as Brisbane’s CBD and inner suburbs continue to grow. With a shortage of land, knock down and rebuild projects are popular. Adding to demand is the active Sunshine Coast market, which has peaked with major land developments such as Aura and Harmony underway.
As always, experienced Estimators with at least seven years of experience and a trade background are highly sought after across all types of construction in South East Queensland.
In Adelaide, civil projects are creating huge demand for Site Engineers, Project Engineers, Estimators and Project Managers with rail and road experience. Tier 1 major projects often attract the top talent, leaving a shortage for remaining projects.
Civil Contract Administrators are needed too, but there is a shortage of available and strong candidates who want to remain in the role long-term.
In mid to late 2019 a number of government funded infrastructure projects will enter the delivery phase, which will impact the market. Overall however, demand remains high for professionals who have strong industry experience and a consistent employment history.
The commercial construction market needs Commercial Contract Administrators and Estimators with proven experience. Adding to demand are the number of Commercial Estimators who relocated interstate several years ago and have not returned.
In residential construction, demand exists for Site Supervisors and Project Managers with medium density experience. Residential Estimators are also required.
In Western Australia, construction (and engineering) skill shortages will intensify dramatically in response to the Metronet and major mining projects. Within civil construction, demand will be high this half for candidates with a rail background who can work on the Metronet project.
Project Engineers with solid experience are highly sought after but are being retained by tier 1 and 2 employers.
Civil construction Project Managers and Supervisors are also required, with the supply of strong candidates failing to meet demand.
Contract Administrators will remain in demand. Civil Engineers at the intermediate level are in short supply too.
Within commercial construction, the first half of 2019 will be active as large projects come through DA and commence. The mining sector is also driving construction activity with consultancies picking up mining and infrastructure work related to the Koodaideri iron ore mine, South Flank iron ore project and Metronet projects.
This is creating demand for Electrical Estimators, Contracts Administrators and Quantity Surveyors, all of who are in short supply.
Demand has also started to rise for Mechanical Engineers and Site Managers with commercial construction backgrounds to work on hotel, apartment, large-scale shopping centres and mixed-use building projects.
Canberra’s market continues to thrive, with Project Managers, Site Managers and Contract Administrators in demand in the residential market as well as health, education and infrastructure.
In Tasmania, and Hobart in particular, Project Managers with experience in high-rise construction and civil construction are needed.
The Northern Territory will continue to face a general shortage of skilled construction candidates. While construction of the Ichthys project is now complete, skilled workers are still required for local and remote roles. In particular demand are Project Managers and Site Managers for defence lead roles.