A recently released government report is forecasting a 90 per cent slump in resources construction jobs.
Kevin Spence of the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency anticipates that tens of thousands of mining construction workers will be laid off over the next four of five years.
With many of those workers being on temporary contracts, the West Australian and Queensland contract labour markets in particular look set for a shake up over the next few years.
According to Spence, “We’re at about the peak of the construction workforce at around about 83,000 workers, and by around 2018 that could be as low as 7,700.”
That is a lot of Queensland and West Australian labour hire candidates who will be looking for work in the next few years. According to Spence’s forecasts, more than 75,000 workers will be looking for new jobs. In other words, there could be a lot of demand on the construction recruitment sector and not too many jobs to place candidates in.
There was one bright spot in the report. Spence predicts substantial increases in mining operations roles. As the oil and gas projects currently under construction around the country begin to switch on, significant numbers of workers will be required to run them.
Bill Evans, chief economist at Westpac, was heartened by the reports forecasts vis-à-vis the number of new jobs set to be created by these nascent resources projects.
“I was encouraged, actually, by the estimated increase in operations of 40,000,” he told the ABC.
“We’ve always been aware of this big downturn in construction jobs as these big projects are completed, but I didn’t expect that the operational lift of 40,000 was going to be anything like as high as that.”
Positive news aside, that’s 35,000 workers still unaccounted for. And according to Evans they’ll be looking for work in a pretty weak job market. Over the last 12 months, for instance, we have seen negative growth in full-time jobs as compared to a 3.5% increase in part-time jobs. Construction workers leaving the mining industry will find it difficult to secure full-time work that anything like the pay and conditions they are currently enjoying.
Fortunately for contract labour candidates, there are a number of major infrastructure projects underway or in the planning stages right around the country. And economists are hopeful that many workers will find work in a resurgent residential construction market. Only time will tell.