The CEO of a specialist workforce management company says the contractors responsible for the many state and federal government infrastructure projects will struggle to find enough workers without the right planning in place.
CMR Civil Workforce CEO David Stack says his organisation, that specialises in placing workers in the civil construction and wider construction sector, is working with its clients to ensure that major infrastructure projects are not held up by worker shortages.
“The good news is that we have had a large influx of people looking for work but they need to be trained and gain certification in order to work on these infrastructure projects.
"As a result of the COVID pandemic there are plenty of people from the hospitality, tourism, events, and other industries all looking to find new roles on both a short-term and long-term basis,” says Stack.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that road and infrastructure projects will get a $1.5 billion boost from the federal government in an attempt to push Australia's economy out of recession, and approvals will be fast-tracked.
The state governments, particularly NSW, Victoria, and Queensland have also talked about fast-tracking large infrastructure projects.
Major projects including WestConnex, Sydney Metro, and Western Sydney Airport in NSW; Melbourne Metro Tunnel, West Gate Tunnel, and Melbourne Airport Rail Link in Victoria; and Bruce Highway Upgrade and Cross River Rail in Queensland.
“Before COVID began, most full-time workers on infrastructure projects were already gainfully employed because they tend to go from one project to the other. A workforce specialist like us helps fill in the gaps for them.
“The workforce requirements of any infrastructure project will go up and down but there can also be unexpected issues like the contaminated soil in the West Gate Tunnel in Melbourne.
"The project literally came to a stop in order for various parties to come to an agreement on the removal of contaminated soil.
"The staffing issues when this type of major disruption occurs is much easier to handle if there is a flexible workforce in place."
Stack says that they are working with clients on big projects to ensure that less-skilled workers who are new to the industry can play a useful role in keeping jobs on track.
“When we take on new workers, we provide them with the appropriate accreditation and training and then we start them on a level that they can competently handle, offset with on the job training. That way they gradually step up to more skilled roles as they progress.
“Safety is paramount in the civil construction and broader construction industry and we are never blasé about it. Part of our role in any workforce management situation is to assess the potential risks and mitigate them,” he adds.
CMR Civil works closely with its clients to forecast future requirements. “The COVID pandemic has made that more challenging than ever but we’re confident that with the right forecasting and training we can have people ready when they are needed,” he concludes.