Project managers, construction managers and contract administrators are in massive demand as the home building boom has seen the construction sector in Australia increase its headcount by almost 70,000, a new report suggests.

In its July to September Quarterly Report, recruitment outfit Hays says the building sector continues to generate employment opportunities amid buoyant levels of activity in home building and reasonably strong activity in the civil sector.

“Australia’s construction industry remains one of the country’s strongest economic drivers, with continued staffing demand and vacancy activity – although levels of activity do vary based on location,” Hays said in its report. “In general, the demand for residential dwellings remains high and consequently the supply and demand ratio has tipped in favour of Project Managers, Construction Managers and Contract Administrators.”

Leading the charge is New South Wales, where Hays says activity in Sydney is being supported by a strong pipeline of residential, office and retail projects along with school and hospital refurbishments.

The civil market in that state is also expected to strengthen further going forward as projects like the Sydney Metro, Sydney Light Rail and Parramatta Light rail move into full swing, Hays says.

The market is also strong in the Australian Capital Territory, where Hays says salaries are rising amid significant activity on the $700 million light rail project and associated commercial and residential work. A strong civil market is driven by land releases, subdivision and road duplications, and residential markets are being driven by town houses and small unit developments.

Outside of NSW/ACT, Hays says Victoria remains busy with work on general commercial, residential apartments, aged care and education facilities.

High-rise development work in the CBD remains strong, as does building and widespread subdivisions in the north-west and south-east of Melbourne.

In Queensland, meanwhile, Hays says Brisbane’s domestic market remains strong with a number of land releases whilst the commercial sector is being helped along with a number of retail upgrades and school packages.

Activity on the Gold Coast is being driven by residential construction and the 2018 Commonwealth Games, whilst robust levels of residential and commercial work are expected on the Sunshine Coast.

Civil construction is driving activity in Perth amid highway extensions and the airport link, whilst medium density apartment building and commercial building have both picked up in Adelaide (which is also expected to benefit from road upgrades in coming years). An estimated $2 billion work of housing, infrastructure and commercial development as well as a $1 billion land release program is helping activity along in the Northern Territory.

But perhaps one of the busiest areas is Tasmania, which is experiencing its most buoyant construction period of the last decade thanks to major projects including the $2 billion refurbishment of Hobart Hospital, the renovation of Parliament Square and Myer Stage 1 and 2, as well as major supermarket construction projects, nursing homes in the North, road projects and the National Broadband Network.

project delivery

The Hays report comes as the latest ABS data shows the level of construction sector employment at 1.0996 million – the second highest level on record.

All up, the sector has added 22,400 jobs over the past year and has increased its headcount by 69,500 over two years.

A large part of that growth has come from Queensland, which has added 16,800 workers over the past year and 36,200 workers over the past two years.

Employment levels in Victoria and New South Wales are also high, whilst Tasmania has also added 4,100 workers or more than 20 per cent of its workforce.

Roles in Demand

In specific roles, according to Hays:

  • Contract administrators, site administrators and experienced forepersons are in demand throughout New South Wales for work on residential, commercial and fit-out projects.
  • Contract administrators, estimators and project managers are needed for high-rise and apartment construction in Victoria.
  • Estimators with a proven win rate and contract administrators with stable tenure in the commercial market are in high demand and short supply in Queensland.
  • HVAC site supervisors with experience on $5 million projects and HVAC project managers with experience on $20 million projects are needed in Western Australia, as are senior estimators for work on commercial construction projects.
  • In South Australia, experienced contract administrators and site supervisors are needed as are project engineers and site supervisors for civil projects.
  • In Tasmania, demand is strong for HVAC technicians, structural building trades such as form carpentry and structural steel fabricators.
  • In the Northern Territory, job seekers with defence clearance are needed, especially client-side project managers.
  • In the ACT, project managers and site managers on medium to high-rise residential projects are in demand as are contract administrators, civil forepersons and project engineers.