Professionals and tradespeople across the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector have significant opportunities to capitalise on positive market conditions in 2024, a leading recruiter says.

As the AEC sector continues to employ more people than ever before (see below), Adam Shapley, Managing Director of Technical at recruitment and workforce solutions specialist Hays says that candidates and employers can adopt several strategies to maximise their outcomes across the year (see below).

Shapley says the AEC employment market remains busy despite the traditional slowdown that occurred over Christmas.

“It’s been a very active market across the sector” Shapley said.

“We did see a small slowdown in the Christmas period as usual, with activity ramping back up to pre-Christmas levels very early in January.

“This year, some employers were contacting us in early January to get the jump on competitors and lock in strong talent. The first quarter of a calendar year is traditionally a peak period for job searching, so savvy employers know they can make strategic hires at this time of year to lay the foundation for a strong staffing strategy for the year ahead.”

Shapley’s comments come as recent data indicates that demand for workers in architecture, engineering and construction remains extremely strong.

As at November 30, detailed quarterly labour force data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated that the seasonally adjusted number of people who are employed in the construction industry stood at a record 1.345 million.

Meanwhile, job vacancy data from Jobs and Skills Australia shows that the number of vacancies across construction management, engineering, trades and construction labour remains at historically elevated levels despite having come off recent peaks.

Largely speaking, hiring is taking place as the industry works its way through a backlog of residential projects and a massive pipeline of infrastructure work.

According to Shapley, hotspots of activity are as follows:

  • Engineers remain in high demand across the board, from civil to structural to electrical. With both federal and state governments continuing to focus on infrastructure projects, demand is high across the nation.
  • Hays is also seeing specific demand for Project Managers in facilities management with a background in architecture.
  • Fitout Project Managers are also needed.
  • In the architecture space, Revit Drafters are experiencing increased demand to support in the drafting of detailed construction plans. Candidates must be well-versed in programs such as Revit MEP and AutoCAD.
  • Project Architects are sought to oversee the design and construction of a project through an architectural lens.
  • Meanwhile, the spotlight is shining on the environmental and sustainability impacts of infrastructure projects. This has resulted in an increased demand for Infrastructure Sustainability Advisors to help identify methods of improving sustainability outcomes.
  • Sustainable Buildings Engineers are sought to meet the growing demand of net-zero carbon projects as well as to implement lifecycle assessments and green building accreditations.
  • Electricians are constantly in demand on a national scale. A-Grade licensed Electricians are the most sought after. Diesel Mechanics are seeing increased demand, too.

Moving into 2024, Shapely says that hiring activity and momentum has been stronger compared with what may have been anticipated.

Whilst there is some slowdown in residential work, he says the focus of hiring has shifted to infrastructure projects.

This will provide opportunities for workers (and challenges for employers) notwithstanding the current slowdown in residential work.

“Employers are much more optimistic than a lot of people perhaps predicted,” Shapley said.

“As you say (referring to a Sourceable question), we expect to see some softening in the residential construction space, although a growing population should lead to some new larger projects. Any government measures to address housing affordability will also have an impact.

“The real driver behind vacancy activity though will be infrastructure projects, which will fuel a very active market overall. There are some very large civil and renewable projects underway and in the pipeline across the country, which will keep demand for suitably skilled professionals high.

“The shortage of skilled and experienced professionals, especially in the areas mentioned above, will see talent attraction and retention remain a priority for employers. It will also lead to continued wage pressure.”

To get the best outcomes, Shapley encourages candidates and employers to adopt several strategies.

For employers operating in a tight talent market, it is important to sell their projects, leadership team and opportunities during interviews.

Interviews should be used as opportunity to show why the role and organisation stand out as ideal employers.

In addition, offers should be personalised as individual candidates have varying priorities irrespective of the role concerned.

Interviews can be used to find out what would motivate and secure particular individuals beyond rates of pay and to then demonstrate alignment between these priorities and what the project or company can offer.

For candidates, Shapley suggests action in three areas.

First, it is important to think about longer-term goals. While making quick moves to take advantage of high rates of pay can be tempting, Shapley cautions that it is important for candidates to consider whether or not the move will help you achieve what they really want.

With strong opportunities available, candidates have the opportunity to use 2024 as a year to find roles that will provide them with the exposure and experience which is needed to take their career in the direction that they want to go.

Also important is building relationships.

Rather than submitting applications and hoping for the best, candidates should reach out to the relevant employer and follow up every application.

This is important as relationship building is critical in this industry.

Finally, it is important to provide specific examples of skills and abilities.

“Don’t just highlight your skills in an application or interview,” Shapley said.

“Prove them by sharing examples of times you successfully used them in your current or previous roles. If you can, also quantify your skills.

“For example, ‘I managed a team of 15 subcontractors and oversaw a $3 million commercial construction project from start to finish’ or, ‘I have successfully completed over 100 electrical installations and repairs, ranging from residential to commercial projects.” or, ‘I have a diagnostic accuracy rate of 95 percent, quickly identifying and resolving mechanical issues to minimise equipment downtime’.

“By demonstrating your skills in a quantifiable way and with specific measurable examples, you’ll stand out and show how you’d add value in the job.”


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