Australia’s economy has many components which enable it to perform to the standard it has for a long time. From an operational perspective, the government is always altering its budget to ensure the nation is ahead of the curve when it comes to economic growth. This might mean increasing or decreasing expenditure in different sectors, altering the level of imports and exports etc.
Australia also has components it relies on to compete at a global level. For instance, we are one of the largest exporters of coal and iron ore, which enables us to put more money into the country to improve Gross Domestic Product and subsequently quality of life. Our industries also contribute. Such examples include finance and mining, which also make a difference to Gross Domestic Product.
One industry that has a large standing in Australia is the construction industry. Construction accounts for a large percentage of Australia’s proportionate size of industries, and certainly stands among the higher revenue generators.
This could be attributed to a number of factors. For one, infrastructure is one of the key focus areas of the Australian Government in furthering the country, as better infrastructure has a direct and indirect effect on economic growth. Not only this, but the low barriers to entry into the industry means that there are more opportunities for aspiring entrants, helping to reduce unemployment.
Whilst this all sounds positive, in hindsight there is statistical and theoretical evidence to support this. Therefore, what we truly want to understand is how big the construction industry is in Australia.
Australia is the beneficiary of an enormous construction industry, being one of the largest and fastest growing in the country. According to many sources, it is the third largest industry in
Australia, and produces roughly 8% of National Gross Domestic Product. It is evident that the Construction industry is extremely important to our national economy, and it has a hand in allowing other industries to thrive.
The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) ascertain that Construction relates to the construction and oversight of building and infrastructure. Construction work can be varied; for instance, housing construction is the largest sector of the industry, accounting for
60%, and generally includes domestic property of residential use. There is also commercial construction, which deals with bigger and more time and financial consuming projects such as buildings (office, apartment, public and private), shopping centres, plants and factories. Additionally, there is civil construction, which involves basic public needs such as roads, railways and tunnels.
Employment in the construction industry has generally increased from 2000 to 2019, as employers are always on the lookout for graduates, and is expected to keep increasing through to 2024. The Australian Government’s Department of Jobs and Small Business suggests the labour market for construction is becoming tighter, which is evidenced by the proportion of vacancies falling to one of its lowest levels in 2018. Despite this, one of the issues contrasting rising employment is the shortage of skills of labour, as there are numerous specific roles yet to be filled or currently being filled at a slow rate. In 2018, The Australian Government found that 41% of employers did not find any appropriate applicants for advertised positions. This can be linked to the fact that 8 out of 9 areas of construction surveyed, only one did not suffer from national shortage of labour.
The information provided gives a rough indication of the actual size of the construction industry, but what is behind it? What are the reasons for construction’s importance to Australia’s economy?
One of the key reasons why construction is so large is because it has one of the best educational systems there is to offer. Whilst many industries require certain higher levels of educational qualifications such as bachelor degrees and masters, construction bucks the trend by offering lots of courses at different levels, many of which can lead you to obtaining a job.
The construction industry follows the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), which specifies the standard for educational qualifications in Australia. The framework comprises 10 levels, each building on each other in terms of quality of information and difficulty. The levels are as follows:
- Certificate I
- Certificate II
- Certificate III
- Certificate IV
- Advanced Diploma, Associate Degree
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Bachelor Honours Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma
- Masters Degree
- Doctoral Degree
Education is not the only important part of training in building and construction. Hand in hand with it comes practical experience. It could even be said that this part of training is even more imperative than education purely because of exposure. One of the most important things you learn in construction is quality and safety. Infrastructure is a significant component of the economy, and thus the buildings and other constructed works must be of a standard that is not just aesthetically positive, but fit for purpose as well.
The fact that apprenticeships are a key part of construction is also a reason why the industry is so large. Because there is such an attentive focus on nurturing students, entrants feel like they are taken care of which only encourages others to enter the industry as well.
The amount of experience required varies depending on the area of specialisation. For builders, three years should be enough to offer one adequate in at least three homes, at all stages of the construction and this experience must be attested to by the resident registered builder supervising the project. However, the relevant registering authority, the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) offers a time scale of seven years, that is projects that the applicant has been part of over that period.
Types of employment
What construction has that many other industries don’t is variability. There are a plethora of jobs to seek and apply for, and this will generally depend on your interests and what you have studied. The industry is currently experiencing a skills shortage, where many trades are not being filled due to lack of numbers. This is all the more reason why this gap is expected to reduce as Australia invests in increasing skilled migration as the pandemic ceases, whilst promoting the industry from within the country by making it easier to join. Some of the many roles are highlighted below.
Carpentry and Joinery
The most popular of roles, carpenters and joiners are under the umbrella of carpentry but differ in some respects. Joining involves making wood, and carpentry makes use of that woodmon a construction site, and both are combined together for the reason that it makes more sense to be skilled in both. The role includes:
- Analyzing drawing specifications
- Selection of timbers and other materials
- Manual fitting of frameworks for roofs, floors etc.
Minimum requirements: Certificate III in Shopfitting or Certificate III in Carpentry and Joinery plus completed an apprenticeship.
An electrician is responsible for managing of electrical equipment and control systems in a particular place. It is a specialised role that features skills needed such as coil winding and armature winding. The role involves:
- Viewing and analysing blueprints
- Cutting and connecting wires to connectors
- Installing switchboards and testing connectivity
- Connecting systems to the power supply
Minimum requirements: Certificate III in Electrical Fitting, Electrical Machine Repair, and Electrotechnology Electrician.
Building and Construction Manager
Quite different to the roles above, a Building and Construction Manager, is like any other manager, who oversees the entire construction process. Everyone on site looks to them as the leader who delegates tasks and ensures work is smooth and completed on time. Because this role is extensive in nature, it requires significant experience in the construction industry, and a variety of other roles previously completed as well. A Construction manager must be able to:
- Manage and organise resources of labour, allocating workers to the right tasks to maximise efficiency
- Deal and consult with experts in Architecture, Engineering, Trade etc.
- Ensure adherence to legislation and construction is of required standard
- Submitting plans to local bodies
Minimum requirements: Advanced Diploma of Building and Construction (Management), and extensive experience in industry.
What we can conclude from our analysis in this blog is that the construction industry is indeed big. But how big? It is one of the largest in Australia, and the many facets of the industry, such as educational qualifications, training and apprenticeship, and the types of jobs present all contribute to this.
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