In the current economic climate, there is a lot of talk about the infrastructure and construction sectors being central to Australia’s post-COVID recovery. But what does that actually mean, and how will it be achieved?
In this article, we will shed some light on the key government announcements and recent developments, and how these will impact recruiting and retaining top talent.
At a high level – what you need to know
As the Federal Government focuses on a post-pandemic economy, it’s clear they believe that infrastructure and construction will play a big and early part, from both an economic and employment perspective. A prioritised group of 15 critical infrastructure projects — including the Snowy 2.0, the inland rail from Brisbane to Melbourne, and the expansion of South Australia’s Olympic Dam — have been fast-tracked.
Infrastructure investment and deregulation form the basis of the five-year package announced last month, including $1.5 billion to immediately commence work on priority projects identified by states and territories. Prime Minister Scott Morrison says this will support “over 66,000 direct and indirect jobs”.
More jobs and demand for top talent
At its core, the government’s JobMaker program is all about helping the economy recover. The package will help federal and state governments to slash project assessment and approval times in half, from an average 3.5 years down to 21 months.
Infrastructure Australia supports the government response to COVID-19. The organisation’s priority list includes 147 nationally-significant projects across transport, water, energy, telecommunications and social infrastructure that will deliver lasting benefits. Alongside this, it has identified and rigorously assessed a $60 billion pipeline of projects.
This will, of course, put further pressure on the recruitment and retention of top talent, which is already an issue for many businesses in the sector. Senior personnel will be in particularly high demand across our industry.
Industry bodies are supportive
In addition to Infrastructure Australia, Engineers Australia are also supportive. Senior Policy Advisor, Sybilla Grady, said the organisation welcomed the government’s infrastructure focus and commitment to expediting projects. “Engineers Australia wants to see the government commit to projects that have been subject to rigorous evaluation, to ensure transparency and to know that the business cases are sound”.
The government has allocated $1 billion for “shovel ready projects” that could commence within six months, and $500 million for local road safety works by state and territory governments within 12 months. An additional $500 million is available for roads and community infrastructure provided by local governments, while also bringing forward $1.3 billion from the 2020-21 Financial Assistance Grant for local councils.
Where’s the money coming from?
Traditionally, the government has funded big infrastructure projects, but with a lot of money to invest, the superannuation industry is keen to get involved in new projects. Former Labour minister Greg Combet heads IFM Investments, an investment company owned by Australia's industry super funds, which already owns the Port of Brisbane and Brisbane Airport.
"Over the next three years, we've got plans to invest about $19.5 billion, and think that'll create 200,000 jobs over that period," he told ABC News. "Super funds are long-term investors. When we invest in infrastructure, we intend holding those assets and managing them professionally for 20, 30, 40, 50 years or longer. So, we're natural partners with governments for that reason."
So, will infrastructure and construction supercharge the recovery? We believe so; however, there will be significant recruitment challenges to overcome.
To read our expert predictions for the infrastructure, construction and engineering, architecture, and property development recruitment sectors this year and what it means for you, download our CGC in Focus Report.
At CGC Recruitment, our team of experienced consultants cover all major infrastructure, engineering and construction sectors. We help clients throughout Australia deliver their projects by attracting the best candidates and talent. This sector-driven focus gives CGC a strong understanding of the project lifecycles, government policy and economic considerations impacting our industry and the demand for skilled professionals.
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