Build­ing blocks to a bright fu­ture

2011 will be a tough year but the jobs out­look in con­struc­tion is bright, CareerOne Edi­tor Cara Jenkin dis­cov­ers.

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CON­STRUC­TION has been the state’s lead em­ploy­ment in­dus­try in the past five years, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the largest num­ber of new jobs, new fig­ures show.

But in­dus­try lead­ers warn 2011 will be a tough year for job hun­ters who are keen to break into the in­dus­try as em­ploy­ers await the de­vel­op­ment and go-ahead of ma­jor projects.

The growth is pre­dicted to dras­ti­cally take off again once projects are con­firmed.

The Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, Em­ploy­ment and Work­place Re­la­tions re­port Aus­tralian Jobs 2011 shows the largest num­ber of new jobs in South Aus­tralia in the past five years was the 19,300 cre­ated in con­struc­tion.

It was ahead of health care and so­cial as­sis­tance, at 17,500 jobs, which pro­vided the largest num­ber of new jobs na­tion­ally (275,200).

Con­struc­tion trades are ex­pected to have the third-strong­est em­ploy­ment growth in the next five years na­tion­ally, with 68,900 work­ers re­quired.

Con­struc­tion In­dus­try Train­ing Board chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Larkins says South Aus­tralia weath­ered the storm of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis bet­ter than other states, which is why the state’s in­dus­try was stronger than oth­ers.

‘‘We’ve got more ap­pren­tices than we’ve had,’’ Mr Larkins says.

We’re just not quite sure where it’s go­ing to go just yet. Work has qui­etened off since Christ­mas.

‘‘We have to make sure we keep all these ap­pren­tices in train­ing and the worst thing that can hap­pen is work goes quiet and cash flow gets tight and small com­pa­nies can’t meet wage bills, etc.’’

Most ap­pren­tice em­ploy­ers are small busi­nesses or con­trac­tors who can find it dif­fi­cult to sup­port an ap­pren­tice when work slows.

Ris­ing in­ter­est rates have slowed res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion this year and projects, such as new schools and class­rooms, also are com­ing to an end, Mr Larkins says.

But there is po­ten­tial for more jobs growth on the hori­zon, he says.

‘‘When some­thing like Roxby Downs (Olympic Dam ex­pan­sion) goes off, that has a lot of spin-offs,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s the in­fra­struc­ture work and some of the sup­port­ing ac­tiv­ity that con­struc­tion gets in­volved in.

‘‘The min­ing op­er­a­tion in it­self is an­other ball game. We’ve got to build an 8000-per­son con­struc­tion camp to house ev­ery­body.’’

Con­struc­tion on the new Royal Ade­laide Hos­pi­tal is yet to ramp up while a new city sport­ing sta­dium also is yet to be­gin.

‘‘Some com­pa­nies will be so busy they won’t know which way is up,’’ Mr Larkins says. ‘‘There’s plenty of work fur­ther down the pipe­line but that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily get you through the short term.’’

Mas­ter Builders As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Robert Ste­wart says in­di­ca­tors now show an in­dus­try slow­down for the first time since 1995.

But he says this year will be a ‘‘blip in the radar’’ and ex­pects the in­dus­try to pick up again in the next 12 months, es­pe­cially through an Olympic Dam ex­pan­sion.

‘‘We are think­ing the build­ing in­dus­try is very much a func­tion of the state’s econ­omy and also a func­tion of the fed­eral econ­omy, which feeds back into the states,’’ he says.

‘‘There’s a fair bit of concern about whether there’s go­ing to be a GFC on the hori­zon in Europe and bank­ing sec­tor.

‘‘In 12 months, these is­sues will be clar­i­fied and I ex­pect there will be a bit more of a pos­i­tive out­look.’’

Year 11 stu­dents Brit­tnii Ben­sonTelford, Nicky Ful­ton and Chloe Nunn, all 16, are tak­ing part in the CITB’s Door­ways2Con­struc­tion pro­gram for se­nior school stu­dents, which this term is build­ing a new sta­dium and re­gional cen­tre for the Rid­ing for the Dis­abled As­so­ci­a­tion SA at O’Halloran Hill.

They are gain­ing a Cer­tifi­cate I in Con­struc­tion, which counts to­wards SACE and gives them ba­sic skills for a trade ca­reer, such as White Card, as­bestos aware­ness and job safety anal­y­sis qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

They are con­fi­dent of a bright ca­reer, with Brit­tnii still de­cid­ing which con­struc­tion ca­reer path to fol­low, Nicky keen on car­pen­try, roof­ing or elec­tri­cal and Chloe in­ter­ested in paint­ing and dec­o­rat- ing. ‘‘I wanted to choose a dif­fer­ent ca­reer path . . . prove to the boys that girls can do it,’’ Brit­tnii says.

Nicky wants a ca­reer in the field to work out­side and pur­sue her tech­ni­cal in­ter­est through an ap­pren­tice­ship in con­struc­tion.

Chloe says she wanted to try some­thing dif­fer­ent and is look­ing for­ward to a ca­reer in the in­dus­try.

‘‘It’s been bet­ter than I ex­pected,’’ she says.

Teacher Peter Pho­takis says: ‘‘The in­dus­try will be silly not to em­ploy them. They are skilled.’’

Pic­ture: Tait Schmaal

Tak­ing part in con­struc­tion work at the Rid­ing for the Dis­abled fa­cil­ity are, from left, Brit­tnii Benson-Telford (Pasadena High School), Nicky Ful­ton (Mitcham Girls) and Chloe Nunn (Hamil­ton Sec­ondary Col­lege).

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