Survey: Strong demand for construction workers

Builders are expecting industry activity growth in the next six months, creating many new employment opportunities for building and construction workers.

Demand for construction workers is hot right now as the Australian property industry prepares for an inevitable boom, according to the latest Master Builders Australia (MBA) <i>National Survey of Building and Construction</i>.

This will mean more job opportunities for tradespeople and sub-contractors, as business conditions and confidence about the pipeline of work and profits rise. Young people are most likely to benefit from this growth, with a third of respondents indicating they will take on more apprenticeships in the next months.

Figures from online recruitment company Seek also show that since last year, job ads for property lawyers jumped 80%, ads for contract management staff rose 67%, and engineering drafting ads rose by 47%.

The MBA survey indicates that builders are expecting industry activity growth in the next six months, with more than 60% of respondents expecting profit levels to increase – the highest business confidence levels since before the global financial crisis.

Residential builders in particular are optimistic as the ABS approval figures released on February 3 show Australia has recorded more than 200,000 dwelling approvals for the first time ever.

“Builder confidence will be boosted by the strengthening pipeline of work that will drive much needed job creation and investment in both the industry and the wider economy,” says Master Builders chief economist Peter Jones.

“The boom in approvals will eventually flow through to increased housing supply and work to help ease affordability pressures.”

While the survey indicates a positive shift for residential builders, this has yet to translate to a solid pick up in commercial activity.

“The commercial construction continues to suffer from weak business investment and conditions have a long way to go before they could be described as healthy. The Reserve Bank’s decision to cut official interest rates should help to reboot confidence,” says Mr Jones.

Despite the positive trend, the MBA has called for government action to boost business confidence. “A lift in business confidence and pragmatic reforms to increase productivity are needed if the industry is to play a greater role in helping to meet the gap in investment and job creation left in the wake of the resources boom,” says Mr Jones.

Mr Jones says urgent reforms are needed to “remove the shackles of poor land release strategies, inefficient developer charges/infrastructure levies, as well as poor planning and development programs are needed if the housing upturn is to gain further traction.”

In its pre-Budget submission, the MBA plans to call for a Budget repair strategy that ensures business confidence is not undermined.