National Skills Week’s Chairman, Brian Wexham, has labelled a serious shortage of skilled construction workers as the cause of slower delivery times and an increase in cost for home builds and major infrastructure projects, with a predicted 100,000 unfilled roles by 2023.
As the most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria are most affected and both will continue to ramp up major road, rail and other projects.
Mr Wexham has said the shortage is hampering the delivery of many major projects nation-wide.
“COVID-19 has disrupted building material supply chains over the last two years, increasing the lead-times and costs of materials,” Mr Wexham said.
“On top of this, workers have been able to command higher wages and be more selective than ever about their chosen employer.”
“Industry consultancy Arcadis has reported construction job vacancies have risen by a massive 80 per cent since late 2019.”
According to the 2022 Arcadis Construction Costs Index Report, construction vacancies have risen by 80 per cent since late 2019. The report forecasts that by 2023 there will be more than 100,000 unfilled roles in the sector.
Arcadis also forecast this will be almost 50 per cent greater than the number of people who are expected to be qualified to fulfil the roles.
National Skills Week – now in its twelfth year – is being held 22 to 28 August this year and invites Australians to explore the universe of skills on offer through Vocational Education and Training.
Mr Wexham said it is critical that school leavers, job seekers, parents and career changers are informed of what the jobs of the future are, and what Australia’s most critical skills shortages and jobs needs are.
“This will ensure our young people, yet to start careers, can gain training and skills in education which is going to secure them a job at the end of that training,” Mr Wexham said.
“Further, it will assist in funnelling Australia’s labour market into the training opportunities which are most likely going to lead to their employment i.e. the most in demand jobs of the future.”
Solutions to the national shortage of skilled labour were high on the agenda for New South Wales’ Jobs and Skills Roundtable for Australian Heavy Industry held 23 August and chaired by State Assistant Manufacturing Minister, Tim Ayres.
The roundtable was conducted ahead of the Federal Government’s upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit, which will meet on 1 September and 2 September.
“The Government has clear plans, through the National Reconstruction Fund, to rebuild Australia’s sovereign capabilities by investing in areas of national interest such as rail, construction and defence,” Mr Ayres said.
“Workers and skills are at the heart of this, and today’s discussions bring together some of our country’s largest employers in these critical sectors.
“I am looking forward to discussing challenges, opportunities and what strategies are needed to train, and create good jobs for women and men in Australian manufacturing and to plan for the jobs of the future.
“The task before us is massive but one that we have to tackle. A big part of driving productivity and economic gains is creating secure, well-paid jobs.
“For existing heavy industry – big users of gas and electricity – the issues of energy price and supply are front of mind today, but the focus of the Jobs and Skills Summit is on making sure Australians have the right skills for the jobs of the future, and that industry is creating good, secure and well-paid jobs and lifting national productivity.”