Professionals, technicians, tradespeople and labourers across Australia’s design and construction sector are in massive demand, the latest job vacancy data shows.

Released by the Department of Education, Skills, Employment and Business, the December monthly data for online job vacancies shows that hiring and vacancy activity across the architecture, engineering and construction sector is extremely strong.

According to the data (refer table below):

  • In terms of professionals, last month’s vacancies for construction managers, civil engineers, electrical engineers, industrial/mechanical engineers, mining engineers, other engineering professionals and urban and regional planners were at their highest levels recorded for the month of December in any year since the mining boom. Vacancies for architects/landscape architects and interior designers are lower when compared with levels seen during the recent multi-residential construction boom from 2015 until 2018.
  • In a similar vein, December 2021 vacancies for technical roles (draftspersons/technicians etc.) were also at post- mining boom highs for any December month across civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, safety inspection and other building and engineering.
  • In trades, vacancies for carpenters/joiners, electricians and plumbers were at their highest December monthly levels in fifteen years’ worth of data. Meanwhile, those for bricklayers/stonemasons and painting trades workers are at their highest December level since the post-GFC stimulus boom in 2009 and 2010.
  • In labouring, vacancies registered their highest December monthly level on record for building and plumbing labourers, crane/hoist/lift operators, forklift drivers, insulation and home improvement installers, engineering production systems workers and structural steel construction workers. Vacancies are also at near-record highs for concreters, earthmoving plant operators and drillers/miner/shot firers.

The latest data comes as the construction industry gears up to deliver record levels of work in detached housing along with a huge pipeline of road, transport and infrastructure projects.

Simon Bristow, Senior Regional Director of recruiting expert Hays, says the demand for workers is unlike anything seen before.

Whist the likely effect of border reopening remains uncertain, Bristow says this is unlikely to entirely plug the workforce supply gap as additional access to overseas workers is at least partly offset by the departure of some Australian personnel for opportunities abroad.

He says demand is particularly strong for project managers, all types of engineers and tradespeople across the board.

“Right now, we’ve never seen such a candidate short job market across many industries with skills shortages, and we predict this will only continue to intensify in 2022,” Bristow said.

“Anticipated international and recent state border openings should start to provide some additional access to professionals and trades, however it is early days and we’re predicting that the number of departures could negate arrivals and fail to fully address the supply and demand imbalance.

“With a strong pipeline of projects, and both state and federal government investment, hiring demand is increasing across the country for professionals and tradespeople in a market that is already experiencing skills shortages – especially for those with public sector and subdivision experience.

“More locally, the impacts of the last two years has resulted in an increase in housing developments and home renovations adding to the demand for constructions staff, local professionals and trades.

Bristow says there are several strategies which candidates and employers should adopt to derive optimal outcomes in 2022.

For candidates, it is important to be prepared and ready to respond quickly in a market which is rapidly moving and offers multiple opportunities.

This includes having a well-presented resume and maintaining an updated social media profile.

Employers, meanwhile, should offer competitive salaries and benefits as well as flexibility about working from home where possible.

During the recruitment process, they also need to be agile and fast so as to avoid missing out on securing their preferred candidate.