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Construction

Overview

This page provides high-level information and data on the Construction industry which comprises six main industry sectors:

Note: occupations involved in building maintenance/renovation are included in the relevant building sector.

The Construction industry is focused on the construction, demolition, renovation, maintenance or repair of building and infrastructure. It covers a wide range of services, from planning and surveying to structural construction to finishing services such as painting and decorating. The Construction industry generates over $360 billion in revenue, producing around 9% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product, and has a projected annual growth rate of 2.4% in the next five years.

Most businesses in this industry are either sole traders or very small, employing less than 20 people. They also tend to be Australian owned, with sales occurring in the domestic market. Construction materials are, however, increasingly imported from overseas.

This industry is heavily regulated in many sectors and occupations, with regulations at every level of government. The VET sector plays an important role in the licencing of many occupations in this sector, with regulators requiring completion of VET programs or subjects to grant licences.

The Construction industry differs from most others in that many states operate training levy schemes for Construction through industry training boards. The training levies are applied as a portion of the cost of a construction project, although there are variations between the states as to how the levy schemes operate. The money collected through the levy is available to cover training costs for workers in the industry. For more information on specific levy schemes, links to the relevant bodies are available under the links and resources heading.

Nationally recognised training for Building Structure Services is delivered under the CPC – Construction, Plumbing and Services Training Package.

Information sourced from the Construction, Plumbing and Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

Employment in the Construction industry increased between 2000 and 2018, with a slight fall in 2012 that has now been recovered. Employment reached nearly 1,118,000 in 2018 and is projected to exceed 1,300,000 by 2023. The most common VET-related occupation in this industry is Carpenters and Joiners, at 9.5% of the total workforce. Employment in this occupation is projected to grow by 5% between 2018 and 2023. During the same period, employment for other VET-related occupations such as Construction Managers, and Plumbers is also expected to grow by over 13% and 11% respectively.

Program enrolments in Construction-related qualifications have decreased from 197,200 in 2015 to 164,650 in 2018. Program completions also fell in 2016 and 2017, but slightly increased in 2018 to 38,640. Subject-only enrolments have grown steadily between 2015 and 2018 from just under 209,180 to over 280,510 respectively.

Industry insights on skills needs

 

According to the Construction, Plumbing and Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast the top generic skills required for the Construction industry are:

  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN)
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self management
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems
  • Communication/Virtual collaboration/Social intelligence
  • Technology.

The top five other employability skills requested by employers were life skills (including money and time management, organisation and planning), adaptability, a good work ethic (attitude, reliability, desire to work hard); work health and safety and resilience.

The Construction, Plumbing and Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast also listed skills shortages in the occupations of Building Associate (site supervisor), Construction Project Manager, Bricklayer and Stonemason, Carpenter and Joiner, Fibrous Plasterer, Plumber, Wall and Floor Tiler, Painting Trades Worker, and Roof Tiler.

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers were communication and planning. The most advertised Construction occupations were Architectural, Building and Surveying Technician followed by Contract, Program and Project Administrator. The top employers in this industry were Lend Lease Corporation Limited, KBR Incorporated, John Holland, CPB Contractors and Laser Electrical.

The above Skills Forecast underscores the importance for those in the Construction industry to maintain the skills to work within a changing regulatory landscape. There are several social, technological and policy changes that are driving rapid industry-wide change, all of which may have an impact on industry regulation. As the VET sector has an important role in the training and licencing of workers in this industry, it is vital that training remains current to meet regulatory requirements. Key drivers for change discussed in the Construction, Plumbing and Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast include:

  • Workforce demographics – the skill replacement gap is increasing, with the percentage of younger workers remaining constant over the last 20 years. The need to replace larger numbers of high skilled workers in the future raises the issue of the future supply and if the current apprenticeship system can produce the numbers required. There is a lack of gender diversity, with the percentage of women in the workforce declining from 17% in 2006 to 11.6% in 2018 and leaving the industry almost 39% faster than men.
  • Mental health – while a range of socio-economic factors can influence the wellbeing of construction workers, the Construction, Plumbing and Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast cites a study that lists factors in the work environment that contribute, including the pressure of large deadlines may mean working long days without adequate rest, tenure in the industry is associated with poor health and fatigue due to physically demanding work without adequate sleep and/or poor dietary choices, prominent use of drugs and alcohol recreationally and to cope with stress, and fly in fly out work contributing to isolation and lack of routine.
  • Technology – although the industry is yet to experience significant digital disruption, major technological advances in everyday digital technology, automation for lower-skilled jobs, building information modelling (BIM) and prefabrication will require the workforce to be trained, re-trained and upskilled for the new jobs and tasks required. Prefabrication is gaining more acceptance in Australia and will require construction workers with different skill sets. Training for workers in prefabrication will need to come from manufacturing and construction training packages.
  • Demand for green and smart buildings – the green and smart construction industry is on the rise in Australia. Often green buildings include smart elements and vice versa. Workers will need to keep their skills and knowledge up to date regarding advances in both sustainable building practices and the use of smart technologies.
  • Micro-credentialing and life-long learning – skill sets could be used for professional development, allowing workers to upskill, learning how to use new tools, techniques or technologies, or move to a related field of employment.
  • Trade specialisation – businesses are typically small-scale with 20 employees or less. It can be difficult to give their apprentices the full range of skilling opportunities that are needed to fulfil the requirements of a traditional apprenticeship.
  • Compliance and regulation – the National Construction Code (NCC) is the building and plumbing code that incorporates all on-site construction requirements into a single code. Recent failures in building performance and issues of non-conforming materials and building products have highlighted the problems of buildings not conforming to the standards outlined in the NCC. The outcome of the senate inquiry into non-conforming building products and the recommendations of the Australian Building Ministers’ Forum commissioned report, Building Confidence, are noted as a key driver for change. Many of the 24 recommendations in the report focus on continuous professional development around the NCC, career pathways, and the tasks and roles of occupations, particularly in the building surveying and fire protection sub-sectors.

The Annual Training Plan 2019-20 by Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ) also highlights industry discussion around changes to legislation, regulation, building codes, government procurement policies and industrial settings. In relation to skills, the report finds these changes are impacting small business capability and capacity due to a lack of understanding of regulatory and policy changes and what this means for their business, small local business capacity to participate and take up opportunities arising from local content requirements linked to public infrastructure investment, and Indigenous small business capacity and capability to participate. There are also financial skills deficits and the need to develop workers' and businesses' digital skills and capability.

The Digital Foundations report produced by StartupAUS in collaboration with Aconex, Lendlease, EY and the Victorian Government presents cases for the Construction industry using digital technologies including cloud-based management software, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, Building Information Modelling (BIM), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, virtual reality (VR), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and digital marketplaces. The 2018-19 Industry Outlook by CSQ concludes a shift to offsite construction will have significant consequences as it implies a structural rebalancing away from construction toward manufacturing, and difficulty determining which points in supply chains qualify as ‘construction’. Requirements of building regulators and industrial instruments reflect the traditional industry structure of licensed trades working onsite. As companies begin to depart from this model, and individuals demand more scope to craft unique skilling and career pathways, regulators will need to adjust flexibly to meet the new ways of delivering construction outcomes.

Links and resources

Industry associations and advisory bodies

ACT Training Fund Authority (TFA)

Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors’ Association of Australia (AMCA)

Association of Consultants in Access (ACA)

Australian Bricklaying and Blocklaying Training Foundation (ABBTF)

Australian Constructors Association (ACA)

Australian Industry Group (Ai Group)

Australian Institute of Building (AIB)

Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (AIBS)

Australian Institute of Waterproofing (AIW)

Australian Sign and Graphics Association (ASGA)

Building Designers Association of Australia (BDAA)

Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ)

Crane Industry Council of Australia (CICA)

Elevating Work Platform Association of Australia (EWPA)

Housing Industry Association (HIA)

Industry Skills Advisory Council Northern Territory (ISACNT)

Insulation Council of Australia and New Zealand (ICANZ)

Master Builders Australia

Master Painters Association (MPA)

Master Plumbers Association

Metal Roofing and Cladding Association of Australia (MRCAA)

National Fire Industry Association (NFIA)

South Australian Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)

Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Australia (SPASA)

Tasmanian Building and Construction Industry Training Board (TBCITB)

Western Australian Building and Construction Industry Training Fund (BCITF)

 

Regulatory bodies

Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB)

 

Employee associations

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU)

Australian Workers’ Union (AWU)

Communications, Electrical & Plumbing Union (CEPU)

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU)

 

Relevant research

Annual Training Plan 2019-20 – Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ)

Building Confidence: Improving the Effectiveness of Compliance and Enforcement Systems for the Building and Construction Industry across Australia – Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Digital Foundations: How Technology is Transforming Australia's Construction Sector –  StartupAUS

Farsight for Construction: Exploratory Scenarios for Queensland's Construction Industry to 2036 – CSQ and CSIRO

Industry Outlook 2018-19: Looking to the Horizon and Beyond – Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ)

Mental Health in the Construction Industry: Summary Report – Allison Milner and Phillip Law, University of Melbourne

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal:

  • by ANZSIC 1 digit Division E Construction Industry, employment projections to May 2023
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • 3121 Architectural, Building and Surveying Technicians
    • 8211 Building and Plumbing Labourers
    • 3312 Carpenters and Joiners
    • 1331 Construction Managers
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 3322 Painting Trades Workers
    • 3341 Plumbers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 November 2018 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202018?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 1 digit Division E Construction Industry, 2000 to 2018, May quarter.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – Employment, Income and Unpaid Work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 1 digit Division E Construction Industry, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training packages or qualifications:

  • CPC Construction, Plumbing and Services
  • BCF Off-Site Construction
  • BCG General Construction
  • BCP Plumbing and Services.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program completions
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 subject enrolments

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is the registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than five) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

CPC Construction, Plumbing and Services, BCF Off-Site Construction, BCG General Construction and BCP Plumbing and Services Training Packages apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Construction, Plumbing and Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2019, Labour Insight Real-time Labour Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2019, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2019 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • ANZSCO major groups excluding Sales Workers
    • Construction.
  • Employers

    • 3121 Architectural, Building and Surveying Technicians
    • 5111 Contract, Program and Project Administrators
    • 2332 Civil Engineering Professionals
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 3312 Carpenters and Joiners
    • Construction.
Updated: 28 Jan 2020
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