New moves to make the skills pool wider

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Careers In Construction -

AFRIENDLIER work- life bal­ance, a shorter work­ing week and en­cour­ag­ing women and in­dige­nous work­ers into the field are among moves Leighton Con­trac­tors have made to boost em­ploy­ment and re­tain their ex­ist­ing staff.

The com­pany, one of the na­tion’s lead­ers in con­struc­tion, with a work­force of 6000 and $ 6 bil­lion worth of work un­der way, has been forced to em­ploy 100 skilled en­gi­neers from over­seas in the past 11 months to make up for the short­fall in tal­ent, as our politi­cians al­low the na­tion’s pool of skilled work­ers to run down.

Leighton Con­trac­tors’ man­ager of staffing and re­cruit­ment, David Evans, says the com­pany’s tra­di­tional hunt­ing grounds of the UK and South Africa are also dry­ing up as they are be­ing ‘‘ pil­laged by all and sundry’’.

He says: ‘‘ Over the next 12 to 18 months, we prob­a­bly need to find 600 skilled peo­ple, work­ing from a base that is pretty tight. It’s a big num­ber.’’

‘‘ It’s a chal­lenge for all the or­gan­i­sa­tions in our in­dus­try.

‘‘ There is a con­tin­ual de­mand be­ing placed on or­gan­i­sa­tions such as our own by gov­ern­ment and private en­ter­prise to de­velop greater in­fra­struc­ture such as, roads, rail and build­ings.

‘‘" There is not an in­fi­nite sup­ply of peo­ple to work on th­ese projects.’’

And Mr Evans says the cri­sis will ‘‘ come to a head shortly’’. He adds: ‘‘ When I talk to my peers at other or­gan­i­sa­tions, it’s not re­stricted to our com­pany - it’s right across the sec­tor.’’

He says the great­est short­age is in the area of skilled en­gi­neers: ‘‘ It in­cludes project man­agers, se­nior project en­gi­neers and site en­gi­neers, right down to peo­ple in our health and safety roles, who have an im­por­tant role in the con­struc­tion and min­ing in­dus­tries.’’

The most crit­i­cal short­age among skilled trades is diesel fit­ters, for whom the com­pany is now hunt­ing over­seas.

‘‘ In con­struc­tion, our chal­lenge is how we can at­tract peo­ple and re­tain the peo­ple we al­ready have,’’ Mr Evans says.

He says the pay is ex­cel­lent: ‘‘ You of­ten work 5.5 days a week they work hard but you get re­warded for it.’’

He says pro­grams to make the field more at­trac­tive to women in­clude paid parental leave, both ma­ter­nity and pa­ter­nity, and tri­alling a five- day work­ing week, cut­ting out Satur­day work, which he says is work­ing well.

‘‘ We are of­fer­ing a bet­ter work- life bal­ance so we can pro­vide out­comes for our clients but with a sus­tain­able bal­ance so our peo­ple don’t get burnt out and want to leave.

‘‘ We need to do more to make en­gi­neer­ing more at­trac­tive for fe­males by ad­dress­ing the work- life bal­ance.

‘‘ Only 12 to 16 per cent of en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ates are fe­male, but women make up 56 per cent of univer­sity grad­u­ates, so there is an is­sue that they don’t see it as a vi­able ca­reer op­por­tu­nity.

‘‘ We are try­ing to re­cruit more women into our se­nior lead­er­ship roles. We have got a num­ber of se­nior fe­males en­rolled as project direc­tors. We are re­mov­ing that old- school blokey men­tal­ity from th­ese roles.’’

Evans says the 600 jobs for skilled pro­fes­sion­als that would be com­ing up in the next 12 months all had a base pay of $ 70,000- plus. This does not in­clude bonuses, su­per­an­nu­a­tion or other salary pack­ages like cars or liv­ing away from home al­lowances, which are also avail­able.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.