Amidst the surge of delayed infrastructure projects across Australia, many construction companies today are struggling with labour shortages and acquiring qualified talent. The impact of COVID-19 and ongoing border closures have also affected the supply of skilled and unskilled construction workers.
With the Australian transport infrastructure sector poised to grow at a rate of 4.9% per year for the next ten years and with an expectedannual industry growth rateof 2.4% over the next five years, it is clear that the demand for skilled workers is not going away anytime soon. In fact, the top three most in-demand jobs in Australia is seen to comprise of architectural, building and surveying technicians, contract, program and project administrators, and civil engineering professionals.
However, the21.5% decline in construction trades apprenticeshipssince 2016 poses a significant problem to the industry as it continues to face a skills replacement gap. With the current surge in construction and infrastructure projects, the industry faces the challenge of replacing larger numbers of high skilled workers in the coming years as the workforce turns over. And, at the moment, it is unlikely that the current apprenticeship system can produce the required number of workers.
In this article, we’ll explore six ways Australia can address these challenges and the steps construction companies can take to combat the construction resource shortage.
1 - Hire Interns
Currently, the construction industry is laden with mentorships and apprenticeships. But to address the resource shortage, it may be worth exploring the possibility of hiring more interns instead.
Most companies offer internships to secure workers before they graduate. In turn, many university students opt for internships rather than apprenticeships as this guarantees them better work opportunities upon graduation.
Below are just a few reasons why internships may be the practical choice to reduce resource shortage today.
Internships are cheaper and help employers save money. This is beneficial for construction projects that are already strapped with reduced budgets and struggling with high costs.
As compared to apprenticeships, internships can help secure future workers.
Internships also typically last for a few months to a year, while apprenticeships are long term. This can reduce the time it takes to find new resources.
With the slow months in construction, now is an ideal time to train.
Internships are not contracted and can be part-time.
2 - Explore Talent in Other Industries
There are plenty of transferable skills that are found in other industries, so it may be worth headhunting for staff from outside the construction industry.
For example, using veterans and ex-army personnel can help fill the gap for resources in construction. Many non-profit programs like helmets to hardhats offer veterans with work doing bricklaying, plastering, tile setting, stone, marble and cement masonry, and many others. In Australia, Veterans in Construction (VCS) seek to help veterans that have returned to civilian life to find work within the construction industry. There’s also the Veterans Employment Program that places returning veterans leaving the Australian defence force with suitable civilian work.
Though their skills are not specific to construction, army veterans have an extensive range of skills, experience, and qualifications that make them valuable members to the construction workforce. They are highly trainable and are seen to have many non-tangible skills that can be of value to construction projects such as adaptability, being able to learn quickly, teamwork, focus, integrity, and initiative.
3 - Shift Towards New Retention and Hiring Strategies
Construction is an industry that relies heavily on humans. But given the surge in backlog for infrastructure projects and the lack of skilled workers to help fill the gap, it would be wise to look beyond traditional methods and labour pools to find valuable talent.
According to an AGC survey, 50% of today’s contractors are engaged with career-building programs. On top of that, 66% of firms reported increasing the base pay rates of craft workers because of the difficulty in filling positions, while 29% reported providing additional incentives and bonuses to attract craft workers.
4 - Maximise Efficiencies Through Digitisation
Construction companies and contractors should speed up the adoption of digitisation, so they can address process inefficiencies and continue to stay competitive.
Unlike other industries that have already adopted digitisation, the construction industry has yet to take the next step forward. But with the increasing problems with labour shortages and the increasing demand to speed up infrastructure projects, now may be the time.
In the next 15 years,1.16 million construction jobs will be at risk of automation, while another 30% are expected to be augmented by technology. This shift demands construction workers to upskill, undergo additional training, and learn new tools and software to continue to be qualified for new roles.
29% of forward-thinking construction companies are already exploring new ways to innovate by investing in technology and automation such as the use of 3D printers, virtual construction tools, and lean construction techniques. 46% of contractors are also launching in-house training programs.
Digital models are helping contractors to scale their production, which requires less people to man project sites. Through digitisation and the use of new construction software, construction companies can strengthen their BIM capabilities, enable digitally remote sales, improve collaboration, and help them measure performance through relevant KPIs.
5 - Opt For In-House Specialisation
Many contractors are opting for in-house training programs that allow them to take on skilled workers for a specific role, and further enabling them through mentorship or further training to become a specialist in a certain area. An example of this are engineers being allowed to specialise in core areas such as maritime and developing into a maritime engineer.
With the current challenge in finding highly qualified resources, focusing on hiring someone with a broad range of skills and training them later on is easier than hiring specialists.
6 - Partner With Companies You Can Trust
On top of having the right resource to fast-track the completion of your next project, partnering with contractors and subcontractors you can trust to get a job done efficiently can help ensure success.
With increasing costs and reduced budgets, companies cannot afford to make mistakes. Working with trusted partners like Antoun who have the experience needed to do the job right the first time can help companies better manage risk and ensure the successful delivery of mission-critical projects.
Antoun is an internationally diverse civil construction and engineering business that focuses on bringing advanced technologies and innovative solutions to clients and the broader community. It’s E6 Methodology® is a tried and tested approach that reduces construction time and takes the burden off resourcing.
How Antoun Can Help With Resource Shortage in Construction
The construction resource shortage can significantly impact the bottomline. To find a means to address the labour shortage, construction companies need to start investing in cutting-edge technology and innovative solutions, in addition to new methodologies and programs that can help retain and attract their top workers.
Partnering with a trusted infrastructure solutions partner like Antoun can significantly reduce construction time and help save on labor costs using the E6 Methodology and innovation of Rapid Set concrete.