Skilled labour demand remains strong in building, engineering

KPMG Econtech worked with Clarius Group recruiting subsidiary SouthTech Personnel to establish and develop the index, which is claimed to be Australia’s first national indicator measuring supply and demand for skilled labour in the building and engineering sectors.“Building and engineering companies continue to grapple with severe skills shortages despite rising unemployment and the turmoil gripping the property sector,” SouthTech said.Using Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and Australian Bureau of Statistics data, the index identified that demand for building and engineering workers during the September 2008 quarter remained more than 4% higher than available supply, with national skilled labour demand sitting at around 124,000 employees compared to estimated available workers of 119,000.SouthTech chief executive Steve McNaughton said the economic slowdown would not bring the talent drought to an end, but would ease the strain.“[Demand for] design and project engineers for civil infrastructure such as roads, transport, water and urban development is expected to remain strong, particularly given the priority the Commonwealth government has placed on developing the nation’s infrastructure,” McNaughton said.“Demographic factors are also contributing to the skills shortages in engineering, where a very high proportion of employed engineers will be approaching retirement age in the next five to 10 years.“While there is weaker demand for auto manufacturing engineers and some commercial construction roles, it’s not a uniform trend. Most firms remain bullish and many plan to bring on new staff in 2009 to support growth prospects.”McNaughton said demand for building upgrades and projects relating to aged care, health, universities, private schools and environmentally sustainable buildings was still rising, leading to continued strong demand for skilled workers.

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