Demand for tradespeople in key areas of civil construction across Australia is expected to remain strong over the first half of this year amid the ongoing ramp up of large scale infrastructure projects, the latest report says.

Releasing a report on critical areas of likely job vacancy in for the first half of this year, recruitment agency Hays says it expects strong demand for trades and labour across several areas.

“With a large number of infrastructure projects either underway or planned for South East Queensland, companies will actively recruit experienced staff this half,” Hays said in its report.

“Given the expanded workloads of tier 1 companies and their subsequent candidate attraction, vacancies are emerging within tier 2 and 3 contractors as well.”

“Hotspots of skills in demand are emerging across the active trades and labour job market.”

Around Australia, demand for workers in construction has increased substantially over recent years amid massive levels of new home building and apartment building activity and a record level of investment going into new infrastructure projects.

Whilst the market has cooled slightly thanks to a pull-back in residential building, demand for tradespeople with skills in road and rail building is running hot as massive rail projects are either planned or commenced across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth and a host of road and live rail developments across the country.

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.

Skills in Demand

According to Hays:

  • Demand exists for skilled Carpenters, who are in short supply but are needed for a range of projects.
  • Formwork Carpentersare also sought to work on commercial and civil projects. There is also a general shortage of these candidates.
  • Concretersare in short supply in response to the number of large commercial, residential and infrastructure projects underway. Candidates with a vehicle and the ability to screed or helicopter are in particularly high demand.
  • Advanced Riggersand Dogmen are sought in response to the increase in concrete tilt panel and structural steel erection work on high-rise construction projects.
  • With multiple projects underway, Steel Fixersand Post Tensioners are in increasing demand.
  • Glaziersare also needed to work on multiple projects.
  • Electricianswith maintenance experience are required and with a number of solar projects approved, the need for Solar Electricians will increase this half.
  • An increase in solar farm construction in South Australia has seen a number of Electricians move from metropolitan commercial construction projects to work on these solar farms. Electricians are therefore in short supply for metropolitan projects as well as to work on wind farms. Demand will continue given the number of regional projects.
  • General maintenance tradesare in high demand in South Australia too, where a facility contract change and increase in student accommodation is creating demand for skilled trades with DCSI clearances.
  • Landscapersare needed to work on childcare facilities.
  • Refrigeration Techniciansare sought too. Those with installation experience are in particularly short supply.
  • Bricklayers/Blocklayersare in demand. A lack of apprentices completing this trade has created today’s skill shortage.
  • Plumberswith maintenance and new build experience are in high demand. Tickets such as TMV and backflow are always needed.
  • Civil Operatorsare in growing demand, particularly in Queensland and Western Australia where a large number of civil projects are underway and large pipeline resource infrastructure is coming online. Experienced, multi-ticketed operators are in short supply. Operators with experience working with various GPS software are highly sought after.
  • Pipelayers with experience working on subdivisions are required.
  • Highly skilled Excavator Operatorsare also sought. It is not enough to hold the relevant ticket as employers look for experience too. However, there is a shortage of suitable candidates. Exposure to multiple GPS systems is desirable.
  • Heavy Diesel Mechanicsare needed, but generally prefer FIFO roles that offer higher rates. This leaves a shortage of candidates for roles outside mining. There is a massive shortfall of these candidates in South East Queensland largely due to the increase in civil projects. All of these projects require large numbers of plant and equipment, all of which requires regular maintenance.
  • Boilermakersare in high demand for both site and workshop-based roles.
  • Mechanical Fittersare in continuous demand since machinery requires maintenance all year round.
  • A range of final trim tradespeople are needed too, including experienced final trim Excavator Operatorswith deep sewer experience for subdivision projects, final trim Grader Operators with GPS experience due to a number of large road contracts being awarded, final trim Bobcat Operators with experience final trimming car parks and subdivisions, experienced final trim Loader Operators for subdivisions in sand and wet ground and final trim Civil Operators for infrastructure projects.
  • Drainerswho work well in a team are needed on subdivision projects.
  • Skilled labourerswith multiple high risk tickets are in consistent demand for short-term assignments.
  • Cabinet MakersJoinersand Shopfitters are another area of demand as large projects reach fit-out stage and retail projects come online and require experienced candidates. The refitting of existing office spaces is adding to demand as older office buildings are refurbished to keep up with the influx of recently built towers.
  • Asbestos Workersand Demolition ticketed trades are in short supply. Candidates require specific tickets and a recent medical.
  • Tradespeople with exposure to the defence industry are another area of demand. The Federal Government has invested in defence in Queensland and blue collar staff who have worked in this space previously are highly sought after. Candidates with certain levels of defence security clearance are in most demand.