Road Transport

Dire Skills Shortage in Construction and Engineering Sectors

The Clarius Skills Index ? which provides a measure of underlying demand and supply of skilled labour in Australia ? shows that the majority of skills shortages are being felt in civil construction with demand for skills from the design to the construction of public infrastructure such as roads, rail and bridges also affected.
Demand for skills in the mining, oil and gas sectors have also remained high, particularly for electrical engineers, technicians and construction project managers.
The Index reports labour demand (employment and vacancies) for building and engineering professionals at 202,000, 122,000 for associate professionals and 408,000 for construction tradespersons.
However, there are 2600 vacancies at the trade skills level and a 400 shortfall in the associate professionals construction and engineering category.
Phil Desmet, the executive general manager of Clarius? Engineering and Building Services division, SouthTech, said companies in the sector were offering more competitive salaries to attract skilled staff.
?Some increases are in the range of 10 to 20 per cent, particularly for skilled service technicians and project engineers. Candidates are increasingly willing to relocate, often interstate, to take advantage of these higher salary offers which are expected to continue in the short term,? he said.
For the second consecutive quarter, metal trades people is Australia?s most skills-short occupation. The Index reading rose from 105.6 in the December quarter to 108.9 in the March quarter, indicating a shortfall of 11,300 metal trades people across the country. Building and engineering professionals and building and engineering associate professionals received moderate Index readings of 99.9 and 100.3 respectively.
A score of 100 in the Clarius Skills Index – prepared by KPMG Econtech – indicates equal tension between supply and demand.
Phil Desmet confirmed increased demand for skills in the infrastructure sector is expected to continue as a result of recent natural disasters.
?While many infrastructure projects have since been placed on hold as labour shifted to support flood recovery efforts, demand for skilled workers in this sector is expected to increase due to the reconstruction work required to repair damage caused by these disasters,? he said.
?The buoyant resources sector has ensured continued infrastructure and building investment, leading to sustained demand for engineering skills in Queensland and Western Australia.?
Phil Desmet added recent elections, proposed government policies and the May Federal Budget will also place pressure on skills demand within the resources and infrastructure sectors.
?The introduction of a new Government in NSW could see a number of new State infrastructure projects and policies initiated which will further increase demand for engineering and project management skills over the long term,? he said.
Phil Desmet said the Federal Government?s proposed Mineral Resource Rent Tax and the upcoming Budget have also caused uncertainties surrounding the future plans of companies in terms of existing projects and those in the pipeline.
?The Federal Budget in May will have a significant impact on the sector, with decisions on funding for new and planned infrastructure projects having a direct impact on labour demand. The Government should use the Budget as an opportunity to tackle skills issues head on,? he added.
He said the male dominated sector would also be monitoring closely proposed Federal Government changes to the reporting of gender equality in the workforce, with legislative changes intended to simplify the reporting process for companies with 100 or more employees.
Sources: SouthTech, Lighthouse Communications Group

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