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.
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.’’
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).