Published on March 6 by the Property Council of Australia (PCA), the research predicts the construction sector will require an additional 45,000 workers over the next three years, which is encouraging news for those seeking relevant apprenticeships in Queensland.
However, Brett Schimming, the chief executive of Construction Skills Queensland, told the PCA that filling this skills gap depends on how workers respond to the contraction within the mining industry.
“The skilling implications will be entirely shaped by the nature of this rebound,” he said. “A very sharp rebound in the residential and commercial sectors may create issues around ensuring that the right skills are in place to respond to local demand.”
Currently, the construction sector has been recording a mixed result – with residential construction activity falling while commercial activity experiences a boom.
The latest Australian Performance of Construction Index, published by the Australian Industry Group (AIG) and Housing Industry Association (HIA), shows the overall industry dropped 4 points in February to just 44.2.
However, during the same time, the commercial construction sector climbed by an impressive 12.9 points to reach an expansion reading of 59.9.
Mr Schimming believes that the regions not exposed to resources investment will make the most of this construction boom, with increased activity growing through a ‘slow burn-type recovery’.
In particular, Brisbane has been highlighted as an area of high construction activity. Large commercial projects – such as the $100 million upgrade on the Broadway Mall – have offered employment opportunities for those previously employed in mining projects across central and south-west Queensland.
“The workers are highly mobile and willing to adapt and learn,” Mr Schimming explained. “These two factors suggest that the workforce will be well placed to respond to a rebound in residential and commercial activity, whatever that trajectory ends up looking like.”
Crown Group General Manager of Construction Gary Cory has expressed his belief that apprenticeships are the key to closing this impending skills gap.
“We are seeing more uni students coming through who do not have practical on-the-job experience,” Mr Cory told PCA. “When they enter the workforce they don’t want to start at the bottom; however, many valuable skills are learnt in those apprentice-level jobs.
“As more building and construction companies take time to train apprentices, only then will the skills shortage improve,” he concluded.
Mr Cory would therefore encourage individuals to take advantage of apprenticeships in Brisbane and other areas of high construction activity.
By Leanne de Toerkenczy, Public Relations Coordinator