The outlook for the Queensland building and construction industry has improved, with more contractors experiencing stronger conditions, Master Builders latest Survey of Industry Conditions for the December 2016 quarter shows. The results indicated that the long-term outlook remains strong, particularly for South-East Queensland.
Much of the state has experienced a slowdown however indications are that this has possibly begun to bottom-out.
Thirty-nine per cent of respondents say the industry is in a stronger position, with a drop in the residential and commercial sectors in the number of respondents reporting weaker conditions.
The improvement was particularly welcomed in the commercial sector which has been struggling with unfavourable conditions for a long time.
The survey is one of the best ways to gauge specific industry expectations and business performance in all regions across Queensland.
The report also found:
The South-East corner continues as the driver of growth, with the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast the stand-out performers across the state.
Far North Queensland and Darling Downs & South West Queensland had the best results outside the south-east and appear to have entered a period of steady, sustained recovery.
North Queensland and Wide Bay Burnett have slumped and joined Central Queensland and Mackay Whitsunday in a struggle to find sufficient demand.
In recent surveys, labour costs and availability have been listed as growing constraints for a number of regions. In this survey, we sought therefore to better understand this trend and how it might be addressed.
Of great concern was finding the “right person” for the job – tradespeople with the right attitude, work ethic and experience to fit within the team.
A shortage in the quality of labour, as opposed to quantity, was stressed by a number of respondents.
One respondent said: “I started as an apprentice in the late 1970s and this is the worst skills shortage I’ve seen. The quality of tradesmen is very poor.”
Looking forward, while the majority of respondents expect little change in the demand for labour, this is not likely to be the case for carpenters, bricklayers and concreters who are going to be in increasing demand.
When it comes to strategies for tackling labour market shortages, respondents were clear about the need for more and better training options.
More flexible and better training opportunities were also regarded as important. Strategies which were seen as lowering standards were resisted. A number of respondents were particularly opposed to accelerated training programs and there was little support for bringing in overseas labour who may not be trained to the same standards.