What’s new in Australia’s infrastructure investment boom?

people constructing a primitive building

According to the Building and Construction Industry Forecasts study conducted by Master Builders Australia, the Australian construction industry is currently booming following a $35 billion investment injection towards infrastructure renovations over the next five years. Below, we have further set out the infrastructure projects that the government will be focusing on as well as other recent news within the construction business.


Construction sector increasing job opportunities across Australia

2018 has had a strong start within the engineering and construction sectors in Australia with the Performance of Construction Index (PCI) rising by 1.7 points to 56.0 in January. The PCI measurement was developed to measure monthly changes in activity levels across Australia’s construction sector and anything above 50 signals improvements in activity levels. The Australian infrastructure industry is focused on underground rail networks in both Sydney and Melbourne as well as light rail systems in Sydney, Canberra and Newcastle. 

The Australian economy has benefited from the influx of construction projects by way of a substantial increase in employment opportunities across all sectors within construction. Lindsay Le Compte, General Manager at Australian Industry Group, stated that “the larger infrastructure projects will also support additional construction and commercial development along project corridors and provide essential support to the wider construction sector”.

Australia’s construction industry currently employs over one million people and in Sydney alone, employment is forecasted to double to 4 million by 2036. 60% of the population is also expected to work in the Global Economic Corridor – a stretch of suburbs that encompasses the Norwest, Parramatta to Macquarie Park, Chatswood, North Sydney, Sydney CBD and Sydney Airport.

In its International Construction Costs 2018 report, global engineering and management consulting firm Arcadis indicated that Sydney is the most expensive Australian city to build and is currently ranked 19th globally on the construction cost rankings. This surge in costs is due to the high demand but limited supply of labour on the market. Contractors are becoming more selective and tender pricing is expected to keep increasing as the level of construction activity increases. As such, construction companies are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit skilled labour and source for trade contractors. This has also resulted in upward pressures in salaries of construction workers.

As a response to this occurrence, Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group stated that “governments and training providers should be taking notice of the emerging skill shortages in the construction sector and be quick to respond with changes to relevant training and immigration categories”.


Which New South Wales (NSW) projects are in the works?

The NSW government has allocated $880 million to the Transport Access program which includes better accessibility to Sydney train stations, wharves, bus stops and interchanges. The multi-billion dollar infrastructure investment program in public transport includes major projects such as the WestConnex and Sydney Metro. Turner and Townsend, the team behind Heathrow airport, Crossrail and Abu Dhabi Airport, has been appointed as the managed service provider for Sydney Metro City and Southwest and Metro West projects.

According to the Ipsos poll conducted for Committee for Sydney, 88% of a sample of 1,000 Sydney respondents have voted for an improved public transport system, making it the most pressing infrastructure project yet. The reason behind the public’s discontentment with the transport system is due to the ageing public transport infrastructure that is struggling to contain Sydney’s fast-growing population – 20% increase within the decade. The Australian Bureau of Statistics also released census data indicating that Sydney workers are increasingly opting for public transport at 23.3% in 2011 in comparison to 26.3% in 2016. In terms of NSW’s most urgent projects voted by the public – 63% of people voted for Sydney Metro West project as a top priority, and 42% voted for the Sydney to Newcastle fast rail. 


Technology playing a pivotal role in Sydney Metro

Sydney Metro has adopted a digital engineering approach which will facilitate its transition in becoming the first fully-automated metro system in Australia. The design team behind Sydney Metro is using augmented reality to help concretise visuals in the design process. In addition, The More Trains, More Services program will work towards upgrading train networks with advanced digitalised train control systems, thereby reducing operating costs whilst improving communication through real-time information.


What other construction projects are taking place in Sydney?

The following projects are due for completion within the next 2-3 years:

  • $1 billion redevelopment of Martin Place
  • Wanda One – Circular Quay
  • Circular Quay Tower
  • One Sydney Harbour and Crown Casino, Barangaroo
  • Quay Quarter


Bridging the gender pay gap in the construction industry

John Holland, a major Australian construction company is advocating to remove the gender pay gap and has started to address pay inequities between men and women within the company. 

“The construction industry hasn’t typically led the way when it comes to providing a level playing field for women, but that’s something I am determined to change,” said Joe Barr, John Holland’s Chief Executive Officer.

Engineering and construction company GHD has also implemented a target of having its workforce comprised of 40% females by 2020. GHD has even established a networking group for Women in GHD and developed a career relaunch program for back-to-work mothers.


We can help

If you are a construction company who is having difficulty in sourcing for the best talent or an individual looking for your next opportunity within the construction industry, please feel free to contact us at +61 02 9285 1000. You may also follow our LinkedIn page for other industry insights or job opportunities. 

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