A survey conducted by Consult Australia, the independent industry association for built environment firms, has revealed worrying data for Queensland as thousands of jobs are cut across the state, prompting calls for urgent government action to restore productivity.
In the past 12 months, more than 60 per cent of firms in the state have cut up to a third of their business, while half expect that they will employ no new staff in 2013/14.
The association’s Queensland State manager, Stacey Rawlings, has suggested this crisis is indicative of a contraction in government investment in infrastructure.
“The struggling built environment industry is an early indicator of what will become a serious problem for the state’s economy, and it is critical that all spheres of government act immediately,” she said. “The survey responses are indicative of over 2,000 staff redundancies across engineering, architecture, project management, quantity surveying and related professions in the past 12 months."
Rawlings said the lack of confidence expressed by firms in terms of future investment bodes poorly for employment, leading to expectations of greater job losses.
“The decline in business confidence is palpable across the industry; nearly 90 per cent of respondents feel the government (state and federal) could be doing more to stimulate the economy,” she said.
Looking ahead, firms remain pessimistic and their forward outlook maintains a strong downward trend.
Of the responding firms, 39 per cent consider it highly likely they will need to make more staff redundant in the 2013/14 financial year while 86 per cent of respondents believe the consulting industry servicing the built and natural environment is in significantly “worse shape now” than it was 12 months ago.
Over 89 per cent of respondents feel the state and federal governments could be doing more to stimulate the economy.
Consult Australia said the results of the survey, covering firms employing some 5,000 staff across the state, should serve as a stark wake up call to government.
“Consult Australia is advocating for common sense recommendations including a stronger infrastructure pipeline, new funds for investment, support for best practice procurement and the creation of a better business operating environment,” said Rawlings. “With consulting services operating at the front-end of a long supply chain through resources, property and construction, these results should be taken very seriously."
She said governments could boost productivity and lessen the impacts of the boom/bust cycle through targeted intervention.
“This should be a trigger for the government to start working in close collaboration with business and industry to ensure the state pulls through," she said. “Consult Australia looks forward to working with the government to secure a more productive, prosperous future for Queensland through more competitive businesses, new jobs and a better built environment.”