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January - March 2016

New South Wales

The recruitment market in Sydney has never been so candidate short. This has created a major challenge for construction contractors that have won projects but are now struggling to find the right people to help them do the work. In response, companies are now considering measures they would not have previously. These include considering candidates with no local experience, sponsoring candidates from overseas and even occasionally offering a sign on bonus.

Employers are also more willing to use promotion as a way of retaining valued workers.
Successful staff retention should also include strong leadership and ensuring employees feel connected to the brand. Salary is rarely enough to keep quality candidates when there are so many opportunities available to them.


Private developers continue to drive the local market in Canberra with much high-rise residential and mixed-use residential development under construction. Project Managers with high-rise residential experience are in demand as well as Contract Administrators to support these projects.

Most hiring is on a full time basis with temporary hiring used for relief work or to fill a gap.

Employers prefer candidates who have previously worked in Canberra,

Western Australia

Fewer people are changing jobs in Western Australia, which creates a generally low supply of quality candidates.

Employers appear to be focused on permanent recruitment in Perth. However, the industry has a good project pipeline and we predict temporary recruitment will be used for specific projects as they are awarded.


In the later stages of 2015, candidate shortages started to emerge in Brisbane. This continues today and there are many factors influencing this including 2015’s strong residential market, growth in commercial projects and the large number of refurbishments. Given that major shopping centres plan massive extensions this year, the strain on an already candidate-short market will intensify.

The resurgence of the Gold Coast is adding to candidate demand. With many major projects underway or upcoming, Gold Coast locals who previously travelled to Brisbane for work are finding roles locally, and while this is good news for Coast workers it has further depleted Brisbane’s candidate pool.

Given candidate shortages, local builders need to consider candidates from outside the area. Candidates are certainly attracted to Queensland, so there are strong professionals that employers can consider.

Many developers and builders predict the positive sentiment should last several more years.

South Australia

Temporary roles remain the focus in South Australia, with hiring plans remaining steady for builders.

An interesting trend for the state is in the aged care and aged living sector, with providers moving to capitalise on the state’s aging population. As a result, many aged care and aged living developments are underway. Increased medium and high density residential development activity is raising fears that supply will likely exceed demand in the near future. Thankfully the pipeline for future work at feasibility stage is significant and Adelaide tier 1 and 2 builders have reported an increase in enquiries with estimating departments busy.

Skills in demand

In terms of the skills in demand in the January to March quarter it is in NSW where we are seeing good demand for Site Managers and Forepersons across all aspects of construction. Project Managers are also needed, especially those with fit-out experience. Meanwhile Site Administrators are sought to support Contracts Administrators overload with work.

In Western Australia Estimators are in greatest demand from both principle builders and sub-contractors. It is important Estimators know the local market well, so overseas candidates are not being considered at this point.

Project Managers are needed too for high-rise residential projects. Employers are also looking for Site Managers with high-rise experience.

Contract Administrators and Contracts Managers are also in demand in WA.

Estimators are also needed in South Australia, where builders look for good candidates who can help them become more competitive and win work. Civil Construction Managers are in demand to work on large infrastructure projects that are underway and coming up. Senior Project Directors with health experience are needed too as builders are keen to win large health projects.

In Queensland General Residential Forepersons, Contracts Administrators, Site Managers, Commercial Project Managers and Finishes Forepersons are all in high demand.

In ACT Project Managers with high-rise residential experience are in demand, as are Contract Administrators to support these projects. In addition, new project wins make Project Managers and site staff with specific project experience key hiring priorities.

Candidate trends

Employers are focused on staff retention and are more willing to fast track promotions making this quarter a great time for candidates to grow in their roles. For example, Leading Hands can now develop their role into that of a Foreperson and Forepersons can grow their role into that of a Site Manager.

Another trend we are seeing is candidates updating their details on both LinkedIn and job boards as well as with their recruiter. Candidates want to ensure they receive notice of the best jobs first, so are proactively updating their work histories to attract attention. We believe this will be a great year for candidates to excel their career.

In certain locations, namely New South Wales and Queensland, many candidates are offered jobs on a weekly basis. In Brisbane, this has led to an increase in contractors, which is not a traditionally strong area in Queensland. Over the next few months we expect to see a huge increase in contracts with candidates able to work on a project to project basis and select which projects they want to work on.

The market in New South Wales and Queensland is more active, and the candidates who are taking advantage are those who expand their CV to include the projects they have worked on and what their roles and responsibilities were. Employers are now making decisions based on project history, for example multistorey experience, retail or health.

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