The resources industry construction workforce is set to collapse over the next four years, plunging 91 per cent and shedding more than 78,000 jobs by 2018, dwarfing the Holden closure job losses.
From a peak of 85,819 positions this year, the construction portion of the resources boom is expected to dive to just 7700 jobs in 2018, according to the 2013 resources skills study by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, a federal statutory authority.
The surge of construction workers looking for jobs will come at a time when non-resources construction is at a low ebb and when the Reserve Bank says public works’ share of the economy is at its lowest point in at least half a century.
The study is based on the most likely low-growth scenario outlined by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics earlier this year. Job losses are expected to be gradual next year – down to 83,324 – and then rapidly accelerate to 2018.
The dive in construction jobs will be only partially offset by an increase of nearly 40,000 resources operations jobs, led by the oil and gas sector where employment should rise from 38,943 this year to 61,212 in 2018. Mining operations jobs should grow by 17,560 from 236,690 this year to 254,260.
Some of those positions are expected to be filled by retrained or multi-skilled workers from the construction sector, but many will not. The industry is facing another skills shortage in oil and gas.
“It will be difficult to source many of these skills domestically,’’ the report found. ‘‘Rapid growth will also stretch experienced supervisory capability, which could affect productivity and safety.”
“Workforce planning needs to proceed quickly to ensure domestic workers are available to fill time-critical shortages in the second half of this decade,” the chairman, Philip Bullock said.
After languishing during the construction phase of the resources boom, productivity is rising in the production expansion phase with production increasingly sophisticated. “The sector’s shift to an operations phase is expected to result in increasing use of remotely controlled and automated systems,’’ the report noted.
Michael Pascoe, Comment
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