One of the key ways to predict the direction of Australian growth in a sector is to look at the skills shortage lists for each state. Each year the Australian states research and release a list of skills shortages whereby the state would be willing to sponsor overseas workers in lieu of a lack of local skills. This not only reveals the level of local skills shortages but it also gives an interesting insight into the growth of particular industries including: Hospitality, Education, Tourism, Trades, Health, Construction, ICT, Automotive etc.
Interestingly, as each state has differing requirements, we can build an accurate outline of the construction forecasts for, in this instance, the construction and building sector.
Engineers Australia released a statement from Hays Recruitment on January 2016 to say that: "major highway and rail infrastructure projects in NSW, Victoria and the ACT are generating high levels of engineering jobs for the January to March quarter of 2016. In its latest engineering recruitment update, Hays Recruitment said that design engineers, rail engineers, project engineers and drafters are all in strong demand. With the award of major infrastructure projects recently, associated industries and services are also benefitting, resulting in increased demand for certain personnel such as transport planners. According to the recruitment agency, Revit skills are highly sought after by employers across many roles, but are struggling to find candidates with the right skills, including self-sufficient architects and drafters. Within the consultancy space, senior structural engineers are in extremely high demand."
1. Skilled Labour
The most commonly mentioned trend for 2016 was the continued effects of the skilled worker shortage. A significant portion of employees who left the industry during the recession never returned, and companies are still struggling to find workers at all levels to properly staff their teams. On the building front, professionals in demand include structural design engineers with Australian building experience, civil and structural engineers (buildings) for urban and land development projects, and civil drafters for sub-division and building-related civil works. We have highlighted three states below as a snapshot of the differences in construction trades shortages occuring in those states for 2016 (Management and Engineering roles as well as specialist trades are not included below):
- For the Victorian Construction trades marketplace, the state has nominated the following trades: Airconditioning and Mechanical Services Plumber, Cabinetmaker, Drainer, Gasfitter, Roof Plumber
- Whereas the South Australian Construction Trades shortage list looks more like this: Bricklayer, Stonemason, Roof Tiler, Plumber (General), Airconditioning and Mechanical Services Plumber, Drainer, Gasfitter, Roof Plumber
- For Western Australia, the construction trades shortage list looks like this: Bricklayer, Fiborous plasterer, Solid plasterer, Wall and floor tiler, Electrician (general and special class), Airconditioning and refrigeration mechanic, Electronic equipment trades worker, Telecommunications cable jointer.
2. Popularity of Prefab/offsite construction methods
Offsite — also known as modular or prefabricated — construction has been gaining ground as an alternative building method that offers the benefits of reduced construction time, less waste and possible cost savings. As companies struggle to staff job sites and stick to difficult schedules, many have started to turn to prefab as an option that offers more certainty.
Ron Antevy, president and CEO of e-Builder, told Construction Dive he has seen a growing use of prefab methods, especially in the healthcare sector.
"(Prefab) is up-and-coming. That's a way to save costs and speed up the time," he said. "Some of the larger owners out there are starting to realize there are efficiencies there, but you have to be doing a certain amount of volume for these kinds of strategies to pay off."
3. Laser scanning technology will gain popularity
Although BIM tends to dominate the construction technology narrative, experts pointed to another emerging technology that is having a significant impact on the industry: laser scanning. 3-D laser scanners can create a digital reproduction of the dimensions and positions of objects in a certain space, and then turn that information into a point cloud image.
"Laser scanning I think has a lot of room to run. Not as many people are using it, but it's a great tool to measure more precisely than most conventional ways," LaRosa said. "What the laser scanner allows you to do is get millions of data points and put that into a building information model and provide much more information about conditions you couldn't get previously. Look for that to continue to grow certainly next year and for another five years."
Taylor added that laser technology allows contractors to precisely "define to the client where we had issues with the existing floor," and then make the necessary changes.
4. BIM will become a necessity, and owner interest in the technology will grow
Building Information Modeling has been a growing trend for years, as it is no longer relegated to just the largest firms. Experts have said BIM provides tangible business benefits, no matter the level of implementation. Many have cited BIM's ability to provide more consistent, more accurate and less time-consuming project document generation. In addition, BIM users can expect better collaboration and coordination among the different parties involved in a project, according to industry users.
"It used to be a nice thing to have, and now it’s a necessity," LaRosa said.
Jay Dacey, president of Integrated Builders, added, "In the bigger jobs, BIM is pretty much a staple right now."
Associate Director of Hi-Tech Outsourcing Services, Bhushan Avsatthi discussed the expanding role of Building Information Modeling in the global commercial building landscape. He compared the uptake of BIM across the UK, the Middle East and Australia, and tied the respective government policy from each of these regions to the speed of this uptake.
"The Australian construction industry has a clear understanding of BIM and its benefits for both government and non-government construction projects. We are likely to see a surge in the demand for BIM across the construction industry in Australia."
He concluded by suggesting that while Australia is behind the UK and Middle East in the world of BIM, and is currently at a plateau in its adoption, the drive from Australian construction companies and architects will eventually see its widespread adoption in the country.
5. Green building will grow in commercial and residential sectors
Commercial construction has typically led the pack in green adoption, but the residential sector is starting to catch up. The growing trend in both sectors is driven not just by a desire to produce environmentally friendly structures, but by consumer demand, higher-quality results and lifecycle cost savings, according to experts at Greenbuild 2015.
“Our cities are growing – and so are congestion and the associated costs and loss of productivity,” says the GBCA’s (Green Building Council of Australia) Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew.
“Infrastructure Australia has previously estimated that the cost of congestion will rise to $53 billion a year by 2031 without significant investment – this plan provides the roadmap we need to kick-start this investment.
"We are particularly pleased to see investment in active and public transport options being considered in our cities, which will reduce congestion, cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve our health and wellbeing.
“As the plan points out, sustainability and resilience must be integrated into all infrastructure debates and decisions as good economic practice. Infrastructure that is sustainable and resilient can support growth and a higher standard of living.
Furthermore, a 40 per cent increase in year-on-year Green Star certifications confirms that sustainability is here to stay, says the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).
The GBCA certified 218 Green Star projects in 2015, compared with 156 in 2014.
In addition, 184 projects registered to achieve Green Star ratings over the course of the year, up 52 per cent on the 121 registrations in 2014.
“We have surpassed the magic 1,000 milestone, and now have 1,020 Green Star certified projects rated,” says the GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew.
“More than 530,000 Australians now work in Green Star-rated offices – that’s 4.5 per cent of our total workforce. A further 4,400 people now live in Green Star-rated apartments and more than 16,800 students learn in Green Star-certified schools. The Green Star – Communities projects certified this year will one day be home to 80,000 people.
Government Leadership in Green Building:
The South Australian Government is the clear leader in 2015, with three Green Star ratings, including a massive 292,000 square metres of Green Star space at the New Royal Adelaide Hospital.
“The New Royal Adelaide Hospital was the largest Green Star project certified in 2015, but the South Australian Government’s leadership extends beyond bricks and mortar. It has committed to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, has achieved a Green Star – Communities rating for the Tonsley urban renewal project in Adelaide, and the 5 Star mandate at Bowden is beginning to bear fruit,” Ms Madew says.
Other notable government achievements include: Defence Housing Australia achieving the first 6 Star Green Star rating for a residential building for the Prince’s Australian Terraces in Adelaide; Wollongong City Council scoring the first 5 Star Green Star – Performance rating for its Council Administration Building; and the Sydney Opera House bagging a 4 Star Green Star – Performance rating.
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