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April - June 2016

New South Wales

We reported last quarter that the recruitment market in Sydney has never been so candidate short. This remains the case, and 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 are still driving the local market in Canberra, with high-rise residential and mixed-use residential development under construction. Project Managers with high-rise residential experience are in demand as are 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.


The candidate shortages that first emerged in late 2015 in Brisbane are still evident today. Brisbane continues to see a strong residential market, growth in commercial projects and a 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.

Western Australia

We have seen little change in Western Australia, with people remaining in their current roles and fewer people changing jobs. This creates a generally low supply of quality candidates.

Employers are focused on permanent recruitment in Perth. With a good project pipeline we expect temporary vacancy activity to rise for specific projects as they are awarded.

South Australia

There has been little change in South Australia too, where temporary roles still remain the focus and hiring plans are steady for builders.

As reported last quarter, an interesting trend is in the aged care and aged living sector where providers are 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 for the April to June quarter, it is still 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 ACT Project Managers with high-rise residential experience remain in demand, as do Contract Administrators to support these projects. In addition, new project wins make Project Managers and site staff with specific project experience key hiring priorities.

In Queensland General Residential Forepersons, Contracts Administrators, Site Managers, Commercial Project Managers and Finishes Forepersons are all still required.

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, as are Site Managers with high-rise experience. Finally, demand also exists in the state for Contract Administrators and Contracts Managers.

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 still needed too as builders are keen to win large health projects.

Candidate trends

Employers are focused on staff retention and are more willing to fast track promotions. 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.

Candidates continue to update 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, so are proactively updating their work histories to attract attention. We believe this will be a great year for candidates to excel in 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. We expect to continue to see an increase in contracts with candidates able to work on a project to project basis and select which projects they want to work on.

Employers are now making decisions based on project history, for example multistorey experience, retail or health.


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