Engineering Market overview ? September 2020

Webinar Reacp: QLD Engineering Market

Peopleconnexion’s Divisional Manager of Engineering, Paul Hansford, recently joined the Pakistan Australian Cultural Association (PACA) on a Webinar to discuss the Queensland Engineering Job Market. See the recap of what was discussed below.


Current Engineering Market Overview – September 2020

Due to COVID-19, a lot of companies still have recruitment freezes on and they are focused on preserving jobs for existing staff and increasing internal utilisation rates rather than recruiting. 

Many companies have introduced 9-day fortnights; encouraged remote working and reduced salaries by 20-25%. The general feeling is that work from home (WFH) will continue for some time, if not for good, which has caused companies to rethink how they induct and onboard new staff.  Whilst there is still recruitment happening in some markets particularly in transportation many of the multi-disciplinary consultancies envisage further redundancies, particularly in the building space. Especially if projects are privately funded as opposed to the federal or state government-funded.
 
Whilst the market is a little nervous there will be opportunities that will arise from this. Potentially a lot of companies will engage people on a contract basis in the short term to help them support project delivery. Civil contractors will have a growing need for staff as there are a number of projects within the road and rail space coming through, with the aim they will be shovel ready ASAP.

Market Conditions by Sector:

Transportation

This is probably the strongest market sector at the moment both in QLD and nationally with a lot of Road/Rail and Metro projects either at Tender Design and Bid Stage/detailed design or construction. There is currently a slight lull in projects with a lot of larger projects already completed, however, the government is investing heavily in the infrastructure market as a way to boost the economy and the mandate is to accelerate programs and get projects ready.

Projects include:

  • CRR (underway)
  • GCLR stage 3a (about to be awarded)
  • ARTC Inland Rail PPP package
  • Gateway upgrade Project (GUN)
  • Rocky Ring Road
  • Townsville Ring Road
  • Dohles Rocks Road
  • B2N
  • Exit 49 Pacific motorway

Paul’s brief national market overview includes, QLD is steady and will become busier over the next 12-24 months. NSW has tightened a bit with the majority of large projects underway and interestingly; cities such as Adelaide and Perth are experiencing booms. This may present some good opportunities for people interested in working in those locations due to the skill shortages there. Pre-COVID Melbourne was the market with the most potential, however, this has been paused due to the current situation.

Mining

As you are aware mining in QLD is predominately focused around coal mining. Whilst we aren’t seeing many Greenfield mines being developed there is still reasonable levels of brownfield work that is around although most final investment decisions have been postponed until 2021 due to market uncertainty.

A lot of the larger mining houses such as BHP are also looking to transition away from coal-based electricity generation to a less carbon-intensive mix of natural gas and renewable energy resources. WA seems to be a very different story and is booming at the moment due to strong iron ore prices and their push into the lithium market. WA is also benefiting from Brazil’s disrupted mining operations due to COVID, increasing their Iron prices and gaining market share in order to satisfy global steel demand. Paul’s tip, if you are looking to focus on carer in the mining sector WA should be your focus.

Oil and Gas

This has undoubtedly been the worst affected market globally, which most companies scaling back on Oil and Gas staff. Capital expenditure is almost non-existent at the moment and the current feeling is there won’t be much improvement until at least the back end of 2021.

Buildings

This is another market that has been hit hard by COVID-19. With government spending being focused on infrastructure projects as opposed to building projects, most projects are privately funded. Therefore there is a high level of uncertainty in this market with some projects being delayed or postponed indefinitely. Schools and hospitals are still being built but the governments seem to be focusing on infrastructure in the main. The majority of Paul’s multi-disciplinary engineering clients think that if they make cuts to their team this is where they will be -Architecture, Building structures, Building services, and associated disciplines in the building teams.

Renewable Energy

At the moment this market seems fairly strong with a range of solar, Hydro and wind projects as well as grid strengthening technologies (I.e. battery storage/smart technology). With several large mining companies investing in this area as well, we expect to see this market growing and there is a definite skill shortage particularly in electrical engineering fields.


Overall Outlook:

Paul’s overall opinion on the market is that in QLD the hottest areas seem to be Roads, Rail and Metro across all disciplines and the Renewable Energy market. Irrespective of COVID- 19 these areas are still experiencing a skills shortage and there will be opportunities. These shortages are very apparent in regional QLD with acute shortages of skilled staff in Townsville, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone, and Bundaberg In terms of mining, the Perth/WA market is the powerhouse. That region is extremely busy with a lot of contract opportunities. Industry tells us that once there is an upturn it is likely to be for contract staff as opposed to permanent staff initially, therefore you will need to be flexible in terms of your preferred style of engagement. Whilst the economic forecast for Australia isn’t great there will be opportunities that arise from the situation. However, there is a range of variables that are impacting opportunities such as COVID-19, Australia’s relationship with China and the QLD October state elections ? all of these will play a part in how things will look in 3- 6 months in the engineering sector.

Paul also shared CV preparation tips during the Pakistan Australian Cultural Association (PACA) webinar, read his tips and tricks here.


Paul Hansford works for Peopleconnexion. He has worked in Brisbane for the last 10 years, having relocated from the UK. Paul along with his team provides a full suite of recruitment services within the engineering sector across all disciplines and all levels including civil, mechanical electrical, structural, process, rail, and water. Paul works with a range of consultancy clients across Transportation (road/rail/metro) as well as EPC and EPCM company’s involved in the design and delivery of greenfield and brownfield mining projects.

If you have any questions or are interested in exploring opportunities in the sector, contact Paul via email paul@peoplconnexion.com.

Peopleconnexion, has been in operation for 15 years focusing on recruitment, talent management and training across the APAC region. Peopleconnexion have offices in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Port Moresby PNG. Initially, the company was focused within the mining and resource sector but over the last 5 years, it has diversified its sectors and now views transportation and civil infrastructure space as our core market.

Thank you Pakistan Australian Cultural Association for inviting Paul onto your webinar, you can find out more about PACA here.

 

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