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Could apprenticeships solve your construction recruitment problems?

The country’s construction industry appears to be booming, with recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing the sector enjoyed 13 per cent annual growth in 2014.

A recent Australian Financial Review report said this was the sector’s strongest performance in over a decade. Recruitment firm Hays Australia claimed the growth is leading to more businesses focusing on staff retention.

Adam Shapley, Regional Director of Hays Construction, said hiring practices in the building industry “remain buoyant”. As companies begin adding multiple projects to their books, the need for qualified permanent staff becomes increasingly important.

“The shortage of talent is becoming a critical issue for building firms and some employers are now increasing salaries and offering project bonuses to prevent quality staff from being poached by competitors,” he stated.

Filling skills gaps

One way the construction industry could tackle the skills shortage problem is by investing in apprenticeships. If your business is hoping to strengthen its talent pipeline through on-the-job training, now could be the perfect time to do further research.

Sign up to Apprenticeship Central to learn more about how taking on an apprentice could improve your staff retention. The site offers information, tools and resources that can help you gain a better understanding of the benefits of an apprenticeship.

You can also browse any candidates currently registered with Apprenticeship Central and use the Position Builder to design a clear, concise overview of any apprenticeships you decide to advertise.

Mr Shapley said training is a perk some organisations are already beginning to offer jobseekers, which could spell good news for construction apprenticeships.

“A trend we have noticed is for companies to upskill their workforce … Employers are looking for staff that have [the] potential to progress through their company and ultimately become site managers and/or project managers,” he stated.

Looking ahead

The Hays research indicated building firms are forward-thinking in their recruitment habits, with many understanding the urgency of securing a strong workforce before it’s too late.

“By recruiting key people now, they are hoping that new hires can be promoted to management teams in two to three years’ time,” Mr Shapley stated.

Furthermore, some salaried employees are leaving their jobs to become contractors, as they can attract higher rates and enjoy a better work-life balance because skilled candidates are so highly sought-after.

Current in-demand roles include site and project engineers for high-rise residential developments, budget-conscious estimators and workers qualified for fit-outs and refurbishments.

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