Construction firms fighting labour shortages: survey

More than 30,000 construction workers are needed in the next two years.
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More than 30,000 construction workers are needed in the next two years.

Skills and labour shortages have been rated the construction sector's biggest issue, according to a survey of construction industry players.

Spearheaded by Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ), the survey found labour and skills shortages was a major issue for 69 per cent of respondents, and for 84 per cent of those in management roles.

Almost two-thirds of the survey anticipated needing more staff in the coming year, but finding appropriate staff was challenging.

Apprentice Tayla Haere of Palmerston North helps fill the widening gap of skilled construction workers.
MURRAY WILSON/STUFF

Apprentice Tayla Haere of Palmerston North helps fill the widening gap of skilled construction workers.

The biggest issue by far was finding skilled workers (86 per cent) but 64 per cent of respondents cited a lack of motivated workers, and a third said people being unable to pass drug tests was an issue.

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CCNZ chief executive Peter Silcock said the industry was being held back by capacity but also compliance and sluggish contract turnaround times.

"We want a strong, successful and productive industry, but need change. Focus should be on reducing approval and turnaround times for projects, and improving collaboration between the public and private sectors," he said.

"We can't do it alone. We need local councils and central government to work with us to complete projects efficiently and to a high standard."

Other questions centred on productivity, training, staff, safety and the use of technology.

Rising regulatory compliance costs bothered 42 per cent of respondents, and 80 per cent felt there was no need for more regulations, but a need to improve regulations.

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Margin pressure was a major concern for about 27 per cent, and only 16 per cent felt rising building material and labours costs were a major issue.

The area where most people wanted to see change was compliance costs. Fifty-seven per cent of respondents felt this was the case, as did three quarters of the company owners and directors.

Approval and turnaround times on infrastructure projects was next at 34 per cent, closely followed by a need for more public-private partnership collaborations.

Despite the challenges, respondents felt positively about industry growth.

"Overall, there's a strong feeling of optimism, and plenty of forward thinking from the survey respondents," Silcock said.

Teletrac Navman and Contractor magazine were co-sponsors of the survey which interviewed 159 people.

Nearly 30 per cent were owners or directors of firms, 31 per cent were managers and 20 per cent were employees.

 - Stuff

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