Employment in construction industry (update 2023)

Good news:

Australia’s building industry has achieved an impressive feat, hitting record highs for employment numbers across the nation.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the seasonally adjusted number of people employed in construction stood at 1.28 million when measured in November 2022. This is 12 per cent higher than levels recorded a year earlier in November 2021.

Having said this, we still don’t have enough skilled workers to fill thousands of job vacancies.

Research from the National Skills Commission shows that vacancy levels continue to soar for construction, architecture and engineering jobs. In particular, there’s enormous demand for positions such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters, crane operators, forklift drivers, civil engineers and mining engineers. 

Why is demand so high? The pipeline of construction projects is overflowing, thanks to record investment in public infrastructure and residential buildings. Despite the impressive employment numbers, it isn’t enough to fill the gaps. Infrastructure Australia predicts we will face a shortage of 111,800 skilled infrastructure workers by September 2023 (as reported in Sourceable).

As the construction sector continues to evolve, it’s critical that we see more initiatives that support skills training and diversity. 

On that note, Master Builders Australia recently welcomed the federal government’s decision to expand the Australian Apprenticeship Priority List from 77 occupations to 111 occupations. This will allow more employers to hire and support apprentices, through direct payments and wage subsidies.

Master Builders Acting CEO, Shaun Schmitke, says the peak industry association has long been calling for targeted efforts that incentivise the training of apprentices.

“The Federal Government has heard the cries of builders in recent months who have been grappling with labour shortages.

“Wage subsidies can be the difference between choosing to hire or not hire an apprentice. Eligible employers will be able to access a 10 per cent reimbursement of the first and second year apprentice wages and a five per cent reimbursement of third year wages.

Finally, in more good news, it seems our sector is making progress with gender equality too.

We know that women in construction face a number of barriers, fueled largely by the fact that only 12 per cent of Australian construction workers are women.

However, the gap in gender representation is getting smaller, according to data taken over the past five years. 

The ratio of men to women employed in construction has fallen from 8.4 to 1 in November 2017 to a narrower 5.9 to 1 in November 2022. This ratio is the lowest it’s been in four decades, since the ABS began recording this data.

We’re excited to see what the future holds, as the construction industry continues to break down gender barriers and invest in skills development! 


07/03/2023 blog, Blog classic Todd Mason