Jobs boost needed for civil construction

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Two separate pieces of research have found Australia will need a big boost to construction jobs to meet demand by 2024, while Western Australia's sector is already feeling the shortage.

Jobs boost needed for civil construction
Australia's construction workforce needs to grow by 9.7 per cent over the next three years according to new government figures

Australia’s building and construction sector will require 113,700 additional workers within three years, according to Federal Government figures released for National Skills Week.

That represents a 9.7 per cent increase in the overall workforce, while separate figures from Western Australia’s Civil Contractors Federation shows at least 3,900 workers are needed now to help that state deliver planned infrastructure products.

The WA numbers are based on a survey by the state’s CCF which found the biggest shortfall among civil construction roles was in plant operators, followed by concrete workers.

CCF WA chief executive Andy Graham says the lack of access to skilled overseas workers during the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to this shortfall.

"We expect the proposed introduction of civil construction apprenticeships, currently being considered by the Government, will create a clearer, stronger career pathway into our industry," he said.

"But the reality is we’re short of skilled and experienced people, right now.

"Excavator, loader, and grader operators, for example, can take years to reach the level of skill and productivity required on complex infrastructure projects.

"Just like any other construction trade, it takes time. So we do need to look at increasing skilled migration to fill some of critical skills gaps in the short to medium term."

Nationally, the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business data showed that stonemasonry, tiling and glazing were all experiencing skills shortages in every state and territory.

Skills shortages in bricklaying, carpentry, painting, plastering, plumbing and electrical trades were present in New South Wales, Tasmania and Australian Capital Territory, while Victoria and South Australia had shortages in four of the six trades, excluding plumbing and painting.

The National Skills Week data aims to identify sectors with the most in-demand jobs into the future.

Building and construction was identified as the third biggest sector where more workers would be needed, behind only healthcare and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The importance of civil construction jobs was also highlighted by CCF SA CEO Rebecca Pickering in June, who commented on the readiness of the state’s sector to capitalise on almost $18 billion in infrastructure projects announced in the state budget.

"We are ready, across a range of industries in our sector, and we have the expertise right here in SA to take these budget commitments, along with unlocked Federal support, to deliver tremendous value to our community," she said.

"We are excited that the local civil industry, including road constructors, pipelayers, traffic management, civil suppliers, quarries, resource recovery centres, mobile plant, transport operators, to name just a few, and their workers can start gearing up now for the mountain of work coming their way."

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