2017 was certainly an eventful year, and not just for the BLSC. The accelerating growth of the Victorian construction industry sees all sectors performing at, or near, record levels. So great is the infrastructure boom in Victoria that we now face a severe shortage of skills and talent as well as significant shortfalls in the supply of basic building materials, such as timber.

Speaking to The Age in an article dated 10 December, Victorian State Treasurer Tim Pallas said:

“We’ve known for a while that the technical and the specialist skills required for transport projects, particularly rail projects, have been hard to get. The more projects you start, the harder it gets.

“We are also hearing of shortages in project management, finishing trades, commercial advisory skills, industry analysis, systems engineering and tunnelling.”

“Only on Friday I was meeting with the extractive industries’ representative body, and everybody around that table was saying there is so much demand for raw materials, quarry materials, cement and sand and so on that suppliers are choosing which jobs they bid on. You’ve got to expect pressure on price,” the Treasurer concluded.

Victoria is projecting $9.6 billion in infrastructure spending each year, NSW $12.1 billion each year and big spending in new infrastructure is forecast for both Queensland and New Zealand.

This raises the bar on interstate competition for resources in skills and their retention…a kind of ’skills war’. If we do not keep our skilled workforce active they will be poached by another jurisdiction. Remember the skills drain to Western Australia during the mining boom?

The December 2017 Hays Global Skills Index identified emerging skills shortages across all industry sectors.

1) Infrastructure
• Design professionals
• Site engineers, project engineers and project managers.

2) Residential
• Shortage of contract administrators, estimators and project managers.

3) Commercial construction
• Contract administrators, project managers, site managers, construction managers, projects engineers and quality cadets.
The Hays Report concluded by saying, “Construction management had one of the highest increases across all industries in number of jobs advertised. Presently 59% of construction jobs are not filled in Victoria.”

The pressure to retain essential talent will face every business involved in the construction industry from tier-1 builders right through to suppliers of services and raw materials.

The challenge is not just to retain skilled employees, but to fast-track existing skills to meet the needs of 2018 and beyond. The enterprises that do manage to meet the new demands will be best placed to win lucrative contracts, retain their skill base and maximise opportunities.

The BLSC staff is already working with key parts of the construction industry to develop training for the critical skill gaps, and taking bookings into November 2018!

We see 2018 as a critical year for our industry. The best advice we can give is to plan your talent development well ahead. One major industry player has already commenced discussions with us about a program which will involve 3000 employees undertaking an intensive skills improvement program over the next three years.

Our unique and proven training courses for site managers, supervisors and graduates includes:

• High-performance Site Management
• Leadership Essentials for Supervisors
• Communication Essentials
• Managing Onsite Safety
• Advanced Negotiation Skills
• Awareness and prevention of Workplace Bullying
• Managing Onsite Safety.

New programs include the Sales Professionals Series, consisting of four levels of sales training capable of addressing the individual and team needs of all staff:

• Essential customer service – Deliver outstanding customer service to your clients and improve the business
• Simplicity in selling – Reload your sales force by going back to basics for improved sales performance
• Advanced selling – Explore the interpersonal and perception skills essential to all successful sales
• Sales leadership – Sales leader skills for the essentials– leadership, performance, coaching, and recruitment.

Please give us a call at the BLSC on (03) 9411 8000 for assistance with planning your training for 2018.