With the $75 billion investment in infrastructure in the Australian federal budget on 10 May 2017, it is clear that there will be an increase in activity across critical, airport, rail and road projects in Australia over the next 10 years.
Following Robert Walters’ presence at the 8th Annual Queensland Transport Infrastructure Conference, our specialist transport and infrastructure team in Brisbane provide their view on the impact of the funding announcements on the talent market and what to expect in the next few years.
How will the recent announcements of infrastructure funding impact the market?
From an East Coast perspective, the extra funding will put further pressure on attracting and retaining high calibre professionals. Rail professionals were sought after in Victoria and New South Wales prior to the budget announcements with many organisations starting to look in the UK and Middle East for additional resources. However, recent 457 work visa changes may represent a significant challenge in finding the required skillsets considering local talent shortages.
How do you think the market will respond to a project which is the scale of Inland Rail?
The Inland Rail program, composed of 12 projects, will have a major effect on the East Coast employment market leading to significant resourcing pressures for engineering consultancies and construction contractors as they compete for talent with other major projects in NSW and VIC. Up to 16,000 professionals are due to be employed during the construction phases. Post-construction, maintenance and operations facilities will provide longer-term employment opportunities in regional locations leading to salary increase due to talent shortage.
What would you recommend that Hiring Managers do to ensure they get the best talent in a candidate short market?
- Candidates have multiple opportunities so you have to act quickly
- Ensure you sell the opportunity to them as much as they sell themselves to you
- Avoid writing a wish list instead of a job brief, it is rare that you will find a perfect match, so be clear on what is essential and what is a nice to have before you go to market with the opportunity
- Build a relationship with a reputable recruiter, they often represent the passive market and will keep you informed of new talent as they become available
- Consider talent from other industries with relevant, transferrable skills
You mentioned that we can expect salary rises, who is in for an increase?
Sydney and Melbourne continue to recruit heavily with salaries increasing significantly over the last 18 months. Queensland has been relatively flat by comparison but will soon see a rise as more projects come online in the following areas:
- Geotechnical design specialists in Rail
- Heavy structures specialists (tunnel/bridge etc)
- Project directors will major civil infrastructure project experience
- Contract specialists with experience in PPP, alliance and or design and construction frameworks
We have talked about rail, what about the broader civil infrastructure market?
There is a strong pipeline of projects in the water infrastructure space and we have seen an increase in roles with design consultancies and specialist water operators over recent months, Jane Lowney, Resources, Engineering and Construction Manager at Robert Walters says.
Upgrades along the Bruce and Pacific Highways as well as projects such as Westconnex, Logan Enhancement Project and Townsville Ring Road are stretching resources all along the eastern seaboard. Project and senior project engineers with TMR/RMS experience remain challenging to find and less interested in taking regional opportunities due to significant opportunities in the metro areas.
With projects such as the Townsville Stadium, Queens Wharf development and the increase in major solar projects, the demand for civil infrastructure professionals is going to continue to increase across the board.
About the conference
Meet the Robert Walters team at the 8th Annual Queensland Transport Infrastructure Conference on the 23rd and 24th of May 2017 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. The theme of the 2017 event is “Towards a Connected Transport Future for Queensland”.