Oct 18, 2018

Cairns construction sector faces skills gap as work lifts

Cairns construction sector faces skills gap as work lifts

Construction Skills Queensland is urging FNQ industry to step up apprentice training in the face of an expected skills shortfall as the residential and commercial building sectors lift.

“Our modelling suggests there is going to be as much as a 15 per cent shortage in labour next year – that will vary from trade to trade and time to time,” CSQ director – evidence and data Robert Sobyra said.

CSQ director – evidence and data Robert Sobyra.

Mr Sobyra was commenting in the lead-up to the FNQ Regional Projects Forum to be held in Cairns next week.

Featured projects include the Tropical North Global Tourism Hub and Wangetti Trail, Cairns Convention Centre expansion, Smithfield Bypass, Bruce Highway – Cairns Southern Access Corridor – Stage 3 Edmonton to Gordonvale and Stage 4 Kate Street to Aumuller Street, Atherton Hospital redevelopment and a Mount Emerald Wind Farm update.

Mr Sobyra, keynote speaker at the forum, said CSQ expected the commercial and residential building sector in FNQ to return to growth after shrinking in recent years.

“Going forward we see residential and commercial building lifting by about 50 per cent by 2022 – which is an annual growth rate of about 11 per cent,” he said.

“…We’re looking at an industry that’s going from about $900 million a year (2017) to about $1.6 billion (out to 2020-21).”

In contrast, engineering construction – which includes transport infrastructure and resources projects – is expected to shrink between now and 2022, from a $2 billion-per annum sector to $1.5 billion.

While work in that sector was expected to decrease, Mr Sobyra stressed the drop was coming off a run of growth which had been propping up the FNQ construction industry.

“The engineering (construction) cycle is notoriously lumpy, with high value projects. If just one project comes online like Amrun it can distort the figures massively and equally when they come off it can have a big percentage effect on the rates,” he said.

“There is still a stack of projects going on the region including renewable energy projects and port expansion and there is no question there is a strong road project pipeline.”

Mr Sobyra said the construction industry apprenticeship pipeline was ‘pretty solid’ in Cairns.

“But the training rate for apprentices in Cairns is slightly below the Queensland average,” he said.

“It’s about 6.5 apprentices per 100 workers whereas it’s seven for Queensland as a whole – so we would like to see that figure lift in Cairns.

“We think it’s a good time for builders to start looking at putting on apprentices, because there is the pipeline of work to support that and we know were going to have a skills shortage over the next few years –  so now is the time to start looking at your workforce.”

For more details on the FNQ Regional Projects Forum, October 25, click HERE

 

FNQ construction 2018-22 Annual Growth (CAGR) 2013-17 Annual Growth (CAGR) 2018-22 Total Growth 2013-17 Total Growth
Commercial 16.9% -18.1% 86.9% -54.9%
Engineering -7.2% 5.4% -25.9% 23.3%
Residential 9.4% 0.7% 43.3% 2.7%
Comm + Resi 11.2% -4.4% 52.8% -16.6%
Total Construction 0.3% 0.5% 1.3% 2.2%

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