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Construction bottom line: 'prepare for change' in place and work

29 October, 2013

The real bottom line of an industry forecast is the outlook for its people.

The latest forecasts for the building and construction industry are set to reveal that while the total number of people working in the building of homes, businesses and roads remains steady, some people are best to prepare to move, as the location and type of work is soon to change.

Australian Construction Industry Forum's November release of the ACIF Forecasts shows that the shudders of moderating economic growth are being felt across the country, directly affecting the types of work available for professionals and tradespeople alike in building and construction.

"The influence of international economics as well as domestic confidence and policy are strong across our industry," says Peter Barda, executive director of Australian Construction Industry Forum.

"The well worn patterns of past decades are no longer valid, and the emerging picture of the next ten years presented in this Forecast release are important information for businesses large and small."

Record low interest rates are looming, triggering a strong rebound in demand for residential building and renovation. Due to homeowners and wannabes enjoying access to cheaper cash, the industry will benefit from new greenfield development, from suburbs increasing the number of apartments and townhouses, through to smaller scale improvements to existing homes.

New South Wales leads the building rebound, offering opportunities for workers not required by a down-cycling Victorian residential sector, while the industry waits with baited breath for the cash-rich Queenslanders to open their wallets.

The non residential building sector will retain its flat trend however it's what lies beneath the line that intrigues. Changing approaches to workplaces, including new ways to accommodate people in an office environment, are seeing a significant impact on the demand for office building and refurbishment. This sector is highly vulnerable to change, as a reduction in a capital city's space per person by just 1m2 equates to three years net demand.

Contrastingly, a bullish retail sector is taking up the opportunity of a quiet time to remodel, extend and refresh, as the fears of internet shopping reducing overall retail spend evaporate.

Some of the workers to deliver these jobs will be coming home from the big money work in engineering construction. The ACIF Forecasts confirm that mining work has indeed peaked however the fall from the peak is steady with plenty of committed work yet to be completed. The new Australian Government's promises on roads will pick up labour drifting from mining work, while the telecommunications category waits for confirmation on NBN, as indeed do another major telecoms players.

ACIF Forecasts are produced by industry body Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF), with the next release at the ACIF Briefings on 12-14 November in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane - followed by discussion and debate with local industry experts to clarify the biggest issues facing the industry in each region.

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Peter | Monday, November 4, 2013, 12:04 PM
It is clear that the unemployment rate is increasing. The actual figures are more dire than the government reports. They do not report the unemployed who have investments ad are not registered for unemployment benefits. Unemployment under reporting practices is a concerning failing of our government. The effects of the end of the mining boom are still to carry through to the broarder economy. Why is it then that the government still approves 457 visa's en mass. Why is it then that the government approve permanent residency for 70% of 457 visa holders when jobs are in decline. I ask this because the 457 visa program was introduced to supplement skills that were not readily available within Australia, NOT flood the labour market when it is already saturated. Recent reports show that civil and electrical engineers are about the only skillsets not able to be readily obtained in Australia. I would say this is the case due to carefully worded job advertisements that do not acknowledge skills transferability from the mining sector to the CSG/LNG sector. The government needs to cut the 457 program immediately yet what do they do, extend the period of 457 visa holder permitted unemployment in Australia from 28 days to 90 days. That is more time for a 457 visa holder to find a job an unemployed Australian could be placed in. So much for government patriotism in looking after their "own". The Local Labour Test must be implemented not only to craft labour as Gillard rushed in, but also to white collar labour. At the moment their is no legislation that protects white collar jobs in Australia against 457 placements, regardless of saturation of jobs. Engineers Australia reported this recently expressing concern. We have supposedly $600b of capital projects in Australia at the moment and many of my professional colleagues and myself remain unemployed yet there are 100,000+ 457 visa workers in our country. This is a travesty of patriotic injustice administered by our governments, who see if more apt to be seen to accommodate the global community moreso than the citizens of Australian. Why does the government not learn from the current UK situation. No wonder the majority of Australians have genuine disinterest for governments in this country. Carbon taxes, debt ceiling limit blowouts by $200b etc etc.
Hayrick | Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 12:14 PM
Peter, since you mention politics, be aware that the job of many (not all) politicians is to protect their own interests. That means not upsetting their paymasters (that means international corporations and local conglomerates not us - we have to pay) So expect many more schemes to reduce wages, privatisations and asset sales without any return to the public, big bonuses for insiders, no cuts to spending on the well off, budgets cut for public programs, user pays introduced for many currently tax funded services (no reduction in tax) and many more millions dumped into the so called "Future Fund" that only funds public servants and politicians. Given the controversy over politicians helping themselves to "expenses" and air fares for personal jaunts, expect a push for an unsupervised expense allowance to be paid (based on passed averages) that has a nice additional benefit of being part of normal pay pushing up the super payout on retirement. Am I a cynic?