Australian Recruitment Trends in the Building & Construction Industry 2016 and beyond


We might be past the halfway point of the calendar year but 2016 has shown some promising trends in terms of construction jobs throughout Australia. While the trends vary from state to state, they show an increasing demand for specific trades and skillsets as certain industries boom, leaving a skill shortage in their wake that needs to be filled. This provides an excellent opportunity for those currently in – or looking to get into – the building and construction workforce. In many cases it is a candidates market and companies are willing to negotiate high rates of pay for the right people. Employees who have the right experience and qualifications are now more willing to consider a move interstate in order to captilise on these shortages. Recruitment firm Hays have released their quarterly employment trends report for H3 2016, we’ve broken down some of the more relevant points beow.


 According to Hays’ quarterly report, the eastern coast of Australia easily dominates the country’s building and construction industry, with Victoria, NSW and Queensland accounting for roughly 74% of all construction employment. The vast majority of construction workers are employed in various trade services, with around a quarter working in building construction. The remaining workers are employed in heavy and civil construction, as well as general construction services. Due to Victoria’s persisting population growth, there has been a continuing rise in residential construction work and in turn a and demand for adequately trained professionals. With many candidates moving away from Victoria to seek civil design, civil drafting and civil engineering work, the state has seen an upsurge in professionals relocating to fill the job vacancies.

 New South Wales

 Continuing 2015 trends, the residential and commercial building markets in NSW remains immensely active. In fact, many construction companies are forced to outsource work to third-party services, hiring new project teams to assist with the projects they don’t have the manpower to manage. This influx of work has led to a large skill shortage, with a high demand for contract and permanent positions across all functions of building and cosntruction. Some of the most sought after professionals include: project managers, estimators, forepersons, contract administrators and site managers. There is a strong arguament for experienced tradespeople who are looking at management positions to upskill and fill the gaps that currenty exist.This is a very advantageous position for tradespeople with the required skills and experience, as many construction companies have been in bidding wars, competing with each other to poach the best trade talent from their competition.

With one of the largest populations in Australia, the continued growth of NSW residential construction, as well as the corresponding growth in healthcare developments, aged care and retail, has seen a rise in the demand for architects and design engineers. In fact, NSW jobs are in such demand that the candidates are relocating from Queensland, in search of more attractive salaries – but the mass movement has resulted in a skills shortage up north.


 While in the past Queensland has seen a steady stream of work from residential high-rise buildings, these projects have come to an end, and recruitment is now focused on foreperson and defect supervisor positions. Demand still remains quite high for affordable and detached residential housing that can accommodate a family and is situated close to public transport. These projects are predicted to keep the Queensland market quite busy for the foreseeable future.

Due to the resources downturn, many companies have begun looking for work in different areas, such as civil infrastructure. This means the companies are now looking to recruit highly skilled civil engineers, designers and drafters who have experience working on both local and state authority projects.


 North Queensland

 As mining infrastructure work has decreased significantly in this region, skilled engineers and construction professionals have been to migrating to SE Brisbane and NSW in search of new employment. While there is a decrease in work, this means there is little competition in North Queensland’s workforce.

 South Australia

 The many residential construction projects currently underway in Glenelg had seen a rise in the need for site supervisors who have experience with medium to high-density builds. There has also been an increase in demand for senior managers with excellent presentation skills and above average technical abilities.

 Australian Capital Territory

Due to the number of building approvals for high-density housing, there is a demand for degree-qualified contracts administrators. Highly experienced project managers and site managers are also highly sought after to work on large, multi-storey residential projects.

What this means for Australia’s economy

 So what are the main economic factors contributing to these national trends and what will this mean for our country in the long run? The increasing demand for building and construction recruitment is driven by elements such as population and income growth, technology changes, industry activity, commodity cycles, interest rates, consumer sentiment and inflation. Not only that but government policies that affect residential building, infrastructure development and pricing are also pivotal influencers. Other key determinants for the rate of growth in the industry also includes the price and availability of building materials and equipment and the presence of skilled labour.

To give you a broader look at the expected trends in Australia, the total construction employment rate is predicted to increase by +2.6% during the remainder of 2016. Due to the significant rise in infrastructure work, this growth is predicted across all employment areas. The two leaders in this regard are on-site work, sitting at +3.1% and off-site employees at +3.4%. On top of that, by June 2017 we can expect to see a further increase of 2.9% industry-wide. This means big things for recruitment infrastructure and economic output in the industry. When you consider that the construction industry sits as the third largest employing industry in the country, with 9% of Australia’s total workers as recorded in May 2015, the success of this industry is directly tied to the nation’s overall economic growth.

Recruitment hotspots

 Construction services, such as architecture and engineering, have seen over 60,000 jobs added in the past two years, whilst building and construction has seen the addition of 40,000 positions. According to recruitment outfit Hays, there is a high demand for design positions such as senior project architects, civil and structural engineers, CAD drafters, design managers and interior design professionals.

In regards to construction, there is a spike in demand for site managers, project managers, site administrators, plumbers, carpenters, sheet metal workers, electricians and general labourers.