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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.

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

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

Overall, employment levels in the Construction industry have grown from 652,800 in 2001 to 1,160,700 in 2021, however levels have declined in 2020 and 2021. Projections indicate employment will reach 1,263,900 by 2025.  

The most common VET-related occupation in this industry is Carpenters and Joiners, at approximately 10% of the total workforce. Employment in this occupation is projected to grow by 17% between 2021 and 2025. During the same period, employment is expected to grow for other VET-related occupations such as Architectural, Building and Surveying Technicians (15%), Plumbers, Building and Plumbing Labourers and Construction Managers (each by 8%).

Program enrolments in Construction-related qualifications have decreased steadily from approximately 188,140 in 2016 to 157,930 in 2020. Program completions have fluctuated, peaking in 2018 at approximately 41,330. In 2020, program completions were about 37,810, similar to the total reported in 2016.

Subject-only-enrolments data show a downward trend from more than 1,622,890 in 2016 to 1,514,160 in 2020 for subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program. Subjects not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program have also trended downward, from approximately 302,070 in 2016 to 245,600 in 2020.

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 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 skills, planning and being detail-orientated. The most advertised Construction occupations were Architectural, Building and Surveying Technicians followed by Contract, Program and Project Administrators, and Electricians. The top employers in this industry were CPB Contractors, Southern Cross Electrical Engineering, and Monadelphous Group.

The Construction, Plumbing and Services IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast identifies industry workforce practices, skills development and trends, which emerged between the publication of 2019 Skills Forecast and the 2020 update. It reports that new developments in existing and emerging specialisations within the sector require tailored training solutions. Further, modern methods of construction are increasing reliance on new technologies changing skill needs as construction becomes more digitised. Increased industry recognition of workplace hazards is also requiring training and skills development.

According to the 2020 Skills Forecast, the major new workforce skills and trends to emerge between the submission of the 2019 and 2020 Skills Forecasts were:

  • Demand for occupational skills due to the shift to hydrogen in the gas supply
  • Greater awareness of construction workplace hazards, in particular asbestos safety awareness, silicosis safety awareness and mental health safety awareness
  • Demand for heritage skills
  • Demand for prefabricated concrete construction installation skills.

Additionally, the Construction, Plumbing and Services IRC reported it received direct requests for training products to address industry skills needs in:

  • Rope work
  • Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme
  • Cured in Place Pipe – unit of competency
  • Steel Construction – unit of competency
  • Swimming Pool and Spa Building Certificate III.

Further information about the new workforce skills and trends (above) is available on relevant Construction industry pages. Mental health in the construction industry is the focus of The Impact of Workplace Bullying on Mental Health and Suicidality in Queensland Construction Industry Apprentices and is an issue discussed in the NT Industries: Construction and the CSQ Training Plan for 2021-2022.

The 2020 Skills Forecast also reports these trends are emerging within an existing environment of continuing and intensifying regulation and environment changes. The latter, through climate change and events are stimulating geographic demand for skills and occupations in the construction industry. These concerns are also having an impact on insurance requirements, which is resulting in strengthened regulation in response to building failures.

Another regulatory requirement for construction workers is obtaining a White Card to work or access construction sites. The CPCCWHS1001 Prepare to Work Safely in the Construction Industry project is exploring possible amendments to the assessment requirements of the unit of competency to address industry concerns around assessment quality, online identity fraud and appropriate language and literacy. The Case for Endorsement was initially not approved, but further information has been added and has been resubmitted for consideration.

The use of technology presents opportunities and challenges for the Construction industry, particularly around skill needs. The use of artificial intelligence in the construction industry, in particular how it can optimise and improve process-drive operations across each phase of the construction project lifecycle is explored in AI: construction’s new frontier of digital enablement. The use of digital twin technology, that is a ‘virtual representation of real-world entities and processes, synchronised a specified frequency and fidelity’ is explored in Digital Twin: the Age of Aquarius in Construction and Real Estate. The report provides an insight into how digital twin enables a physical building to adapt to human needs, instead of humans conforming to the building’s limitations. According to the authors, it provides data that can deliver actionable insights geared towards efficiency while reducing wasted resources.

COVID-19 impact

The designation of construction as an essential service enabled activity to continue from late March 2020 onwards noting public health orders and excluding shutdowns due to increasing, localised COVID-19 infection rates (for example those in New South Wales and Victoria in 2021).

The Australian and state and territory governments implemented programs to directly support the construction industry, for example HomeBuilder, through skilling programs, such as the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees and the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement package, and through state and territory economic and social recovery programs; see the Timeline of Australian VET policy initiatives in the VET Knowledge Bank.

A lack of spare labour may present a challenge for the construction industry, with Industry Outlook 2021-2022: For Queensland’s Construction Industry stating that migrants add nearly 10,000 workers to South-East Queensland’s construction industry each year. It is likely the flow of migrants slowed significantly during the pandemic, effectively capping the availability of skilled labour. It appears that a skilling and training response that helps workers seeking to move out of lower-growth sectors into the construction industry may be alleviating skill shortages, according to Construction Skills Queensland.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant research, organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

 

IRC and Skills Forecast

Construction, Plumbing and Services Industry Reference Committee

 

Relevant research

AI: Construction’s New Frontier of Digital Enablement - Mark Gibson, Eric Ottinger, Giselle Chanona-Pierre, Todd Lukesh, Erica Crandon and Erin Patrick Roberts

CPCCWHS1001 Prepare to Work Safely in the Construction Industry (current project) - Artibus Innovation

CSQ Training Plan 2021-2022: Building a skilled and resilient workforce in construction - Construction Skills Queendland

Digital Twin: the Age of Aquarius in Construction and Real Estate - Todd Lukesh, Eric Ottinger, Nipun Bajaj, Jordan Stein, Erica Crandon, Mark Gibson and Akanksha Jain

NT Industries: Construction - Industry Skills Advisory Council NT

The Impact of Workplace Bullying on Mental Health and Suicidality in Queensland Construction Industry Apprentices - Dr Victoria Ross, Rachmania Wardhani and Dr Kairi Kõlves

COVID-19 impact

Industry Outlook 2021-2022: For Queensland’s Construction Industry - Construction Skills Queensland

Timeline of Australian VET policy initiatives – National Centre for Vocational Education Research

 

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)

Keystone Tasmania (formerly the Tasmanian Building and Construction Industry Training Board (TBCITB))

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)

Western Australian Construction Training Fund (CTF)

 

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)

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal:

  • by ANZSIC 1-digit Division E Construction Industry, employment projections to May 2025.
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2025
    • 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 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ06 - Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, viewed 1 August 2021, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2021

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 1-digit Division E Construction Industry, 2000 to 2020, 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:

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 program completions
  • 2016 to 2020 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:

  • 2011 to 2020 commencements
  • 2011 to 2020 completions
  • apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2020 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2021, Labour Insight Real-time Labour Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2021, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2018 and June 2021 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: 18 Jan 2022
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