As we look into 2020, it is important for both hiring managers and professionals alike in the property, infrastructure and energy sectors to be aware about likely job market trends and strategies which they can employ to derive best possible outcomes.
Our latest market analysis paints a detailed picture of how the Australian jobs market will look for the property, infrastructure and energy sectors in 2020. Having crunched the numbers and spoken with hiring managers and professionals across the country, here are the key findings for Sourceable readers.
After a slower year in 2019, we expect the property sector to pick up a little in 2020. Precinct redevelopment activities and investment in social infrastructure (notably education and health) will continue to be a priority across Australia. However, the residential property sector may remain sluggish (particularly for medium and high-density developments) as it recovers from poor market conditions in 2018-19.
With new development cycles getting underway, jobs growth is around the corner. Development Managers will be in demand, along with professionals who have broad strategic planning experience of integrated precinct developments at a Project Director level. However, it may be 2021 before the construction delivery sector starts to pick up again.
Proactive employers are now acknowledging the business benefits of a diverse workforce and good mental health. Construction professionals are increasingly attuned to this, and are attracted to employers with alternative delivery models that allow flexible work practices and better work-life balance.
Rail projects will command attention in 2020 due to the high demand – and low availability – of several specialist skillsets. Meanwhile some of the biggest road projects Australia has ever witnessed will see a further surge in demand in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
In the rail sector, we expect to see some salary growth for roles in high demand and short supply, including Rail Systems Managers, Design & Interface Managers, Project Managers and Safety Assurance Managers. In roads, the same can be said for Senior Engineers, Senior Estimators, Design Managers and Project Managers.
On the flipside, with so many road and rail projects in the delivery cycle now, there may be less demand in 2020 for transport modelling and planning professionals.
Ongoing drought will continue to present challenges for the water security sector, particularly in regional communities. In response, several water infrastructure projects will gain momentum and stimulate jobs growth in areas such as water storage, pipelines and irrigation schemes. Program Managers, dam specialists and water resource modelling specialists could all find themselves in high demand.
Energy and resources
From offshore wind farms to hydro-electric dams and battery storage facilities, the renewables sector will provide a range of exciting projects to work on in 2020. In fact, there are 103 renewables projects under construction (or due to start) in Australia. These are expected to deliver more than $27 billion in investment and create more than 16,000 jobs – heavily weighted to the Eastern seaboard.
Performance, efficiency and productivity are the name of the game for energy employers at the moment. Consequently, professionals with expertise in asset management and commercial management will be in high demand in 2020. However, jobs growth for Project Developers will be tempered slightly until the federal government announces a strategic approach to renewables.
Meanwhile, gas shortages are likely to prompt more developments (and therefore jobs) in domestic gas supply projects in 2020. And the mining sector will see some jobs growth in precious metals, iron ore and coal, stimulated by the expansion of brownfield mines. Jobs demand will lean towards asset management, reliability, operations and performance roles, as opposed to feasibility and study management roles. Mining employers will also be hiring ICT procurement contractors to enable them to automate everything from software to vehicles in 2020.
Advice for hiring managers
Traditionally, many employers saw recruitment as a process where a series of candidates lined up to perform and impress them during interviews. But times have changed. The interview and selection process is a two-way street, with each party sizing the other up.
Hiring managers need to present a clear and compelling employer value proposition to potential employees. Salary is only one consideration for professionals nowadays and factors such as work-life balance, career development and workplace culture can often seal the deal.
As I’ve described in this article, there are several areas of high demand and short supply in property, infrastructure and energy right now. To fill vacancies in niche areas, hiring managers need to be flexible and think outside the box. Prescriptive role requirements can substantially narrow your field of potential talent. Hiring people with the right blend of potential and values is often a more effective (and affordable) strategy than, for example, insisting upon somebody with five years’ specialist experience in a particular industry. It’s even possible that you have someone already in your organisation with the right aptitude to learn and grow into a role.
Finally, when it comes to retaining your star performers, my advice would be to consider your remuneration model. Incentivising contractors to complete a project, before moving elsewhere, can make all the difference. For example, for contract roles, include a retention bonus for project completion to help ensure people see out their full tenure with you. As well as tying up the project successfully, this helps to ensure a smooth and complete handover of knowledge before they depart.
Advice for professionals
If you’re thinking of switching employers in 2020, my advice would be: look before you leap. Take time to reflect on what you want from your next role. Consider what kind of manager and organisation you want to work for, as well as what projects interest you – then check whether prospective jobs can meet your expectations. Also remember that the jobs market in property, infrastructure and energy changes rapidly, so make certain that you understand your market value.
Jane Lowney is Associate Director, Engineering & Infrastructure at Robert Walters. She is a degree-qualified Civil/Structural Engineer with industry and recruitment experience within the engineering sector. Passionate about diversity and inclusion in the engineering sector, Jane is an active participant in industry working groups and events to improve diversity and to encourage participation in STEM. She is also an active member of the Diversity In Infrastructure industry working group. In 2018 she was named Recruiter Of The Year in Australia’s RCSA Awards. Contact Jane via LinkedIn.