The construction site of the new Queensland Children's Hospital in Brisbane.
The construction site of the new Queensland Children's Hospital in Brisbane. DAN PELED

Targeted skilling programs will remain vital

THE 2013 Major Projects Report - released late last month - predicts a decline in the number and scale of major construction projects in Queensland over the next four years.

While not a positive outlook in and of itself, the report needs to be viewed with due consideration to broader industry factors.

Project values are forecast to fall by more than $7.5 billion over the next four years - however that reduction is from the all-time high recorded in 2012-13. It's not possible to post year-on-year increases forever. At some point, there has to be a retraction from the high point.

Construction Skills Queensland CEO Brett Schimming said targeted skilling programs will remain vital to ensure the supply of building and construction workers to continue to meet demand, despite the forecast decreases.

He said the challenges remained the same - ensuring the right skills are in the right place at the right time.

Building what is already funded, and the new projects that are yet to start, will require a continual supply of skilled workers.

"Remembering that we still have more projects and more construction happening in this state than we've ever seen in years in the past," he said.

"It's still an opportunity for the state to benefit in employment, it's an opportunity for people to work in the construction industry, and it's still a thriving component of the Queensland economy."

The report shows major project work will remain at record levels through 2013 and 2014.

The report did not include projects under $100 million and reconstruction work, both of which are expected to require large numbers of building and construction workers.

"We need to ensure we have the right skills in the right place at the right time," Mr Schimming said.

"The regional focus of many mining and energy projects will continue to create challenges for the construction industry."

Traditionally, residential demand has supported the construction industry. Building approvals rose through the latter half of last year, which will translate into job growth. That will take time, particularly as confidence remains relatively low.

The latest MyCareer Employment Forecast sees renewed growth in the construction sector by the middle of this year, thanks to low interest rates and improving economic conditions.

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