The Infrastructure Future is looking bright!!

By: Nikki ChapmanNikki Harding

So with the festive season now a blurred distant memory, we again begin to speculate what’s going to be different this year from last? What projects will magically appear to drag our current unemployment rate down from 6%  – the worst figures in almost a decade.

Well here’s some food for thought, currently in Queensland alone there is almost $5.5 billion worth of infrastructure, road and rail projects currently up for grabs with the ‘expression of interest’ or EOI’s being sent out, or tenders currently underway.

Some of these projects include:

  • Toowoomba second range crossing valued at $1.7billion
  • Gateway motorway upgrade valued at $1.2billion
  • Kingsford Smith drive upgrade valued at $650million
  • The Under River Tunnel valued at $2.2billion.

These projects although not beginning in some cases until early to mid 2015, will require numerous skill sets prior to construction, especially in the estimating, planning, contracts and procurement spaces as well as conceptual and detailed design and engineering, creating a flow on effect for other areas.

So whilst the market may seem bleak at present, there is a silver lining on that cloud of skepticism, and whilst I don’t have a crystal ball I do believe that with a sense of renewed confidence we can optimistically look forward to what looks to be a much better year for those looking to grab hold of the next challenging role in their career.

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2013 in Queensland – a positive outlook or more of the same?

Dan2012 was a tough year for many Queenslander’s with the employment market suffering from a lack of Government spending on projects and infrastructure. The large number of redundancies across the Government sector as well as the reduced confidence of the large mining and resources companies all contributed to a significant reduction in the hiring of both contract and permanent staff across most industries in Queensland throughout 2012.

With 2013 now in full swing, what is the outlook for the remainder of the year? We have seen a steady increase in the number of contract and permanent opportunities throughout the first couple of months of year which is certainly a welcome change from the last quarter of 2012. After a strict spending freeze since the election in March last year, the State Government appears to slowly be ramping up its spending on new projects which has created the increased need for contractors with specialist skills to help deliver key initiatives.

The lowering of interest rates by the RBA over the past six months has increased confidence in the Australian economy and has seen many commercial sector organisations increase their recruitment to help meet deadlines and drive growth. We have seen a significant increase in the number of permanent roles in Queensland compared to the past 6 months.

Overall, the increase in Government spending combined with the increase in confidence in the Australian economy certainly bodes well for the year ahead. With the Government’s need to deliver critical services across the state, we should see a substantial increase in the amount spent on projects for the remainder of the year. For anyone looking for a new role, this should have a positive impact as the number of both permanent and contract opportunities rapidly increases to meet the demand of employers.

2011: THE YEAR THAT WAS

Coming into 2011 in the middle of the Queensland floods, was a very nervous time for business in Queensland.  Having just recovered from the 2008/2009 down turn, everyone was talking the market up late 2010 and we were all very confident going into the New Year.

Then bang, just like that things changed, or so we thought. Like most people in Brisbane we returned from xmas holidays early, preparing for another down turn and strategising about how we would work through it.  But I am very pleased to say we were wrong.  By late January market confidence was back up on track, the phones started ringing off the hook; organisations and government entities alike were back to the business of running their businesses.

The media still talk about recession and economic uncertainty but within the recruitment industry it is more “recession, what recession?” but we have had to work harder and smarter than ever before.  In the sectors we consult in – I.T., Accounting, Executive and Health – candidates are once again in the driving seat.  Whether this is a reflection of what is happening in the mining and resources sector or not, we are seeing candidates in the position of having multiple choices about which role to accept.  This in turn started to push salaries and hourly rates up further as companies became desperate to secure staff for the positions, but I believe in recent times common sense has prevailed as employers have remained budget conscious and paying what the role and experience is worth.  Thank god we have not reverted to the craziness of 2007 when people were being counter offered $30K plus just to stay put.

The I.T. division has experienced outstanding growth in 2011 – with many major projects still kicking along, the demand for Project and Program Managers, outstanding Business Analysts and high-level technical experts has never been as good.  BUT, what we have seen happen this year, is government entities making the decision to stop projects that are not progressing and deciding to put the $$$ to better use.  So candidates assuming that a long-term project is an easy ride are now being kept on their toes to deliver results or risk that they may not have a contract at all.

Whilst the Accounting market is not the resilient market it once was there have been many large projects that have kept us and our candidates busy throughout the year. With a push by organsiations to employ technically astute candidates, CPA/CA/CIMA qualifications are becoming a minimum rather than a desired requirement, so candidates take note, push a little harder and get your qualification, it makes you so much more sought after in the current market.

Our newest division Health has had a great year, this area has seen a move for us into clinical and broader health roles.  This has been exciting and challenging for those involved, with the successful placement of the Chief Nurse for Qld and numerous Executive levels roles across both the private and public sectors we believe 2012 will be an even greater year for Eden Ritchie’s Health Division.

Not surprisingly recruitment in the North Queensland and Bowen Basin has been very busy, whilst the companies and positions on offer have been great, the challenge has been the lack of residential housing and cost of living associated within his region.  If the mining boom continues, the next couple of years are going to be challenging for businesses to attract people to the region, as not everyone wants a FIFO option.  Additionally, the pressure on Local Governments to fix and build further infrastructure to support the growth is essential.

With both Local, State and potentially Federal government elections looming you can be sure a lot will be promised to fix this but what actually is delivered is another thing.  I would be interested to hear other’s opinions on this as the tide is turning at all levels of government and I believe we are in for a turbulent year in politics.  Hold onto your hats it is about to get nasty.

So where do I think we will be in 2012 – ever the optimist, I believe the economy is stronger than the media portray, that may be naive as we are living in the 2nd busiest state after WA in the country, but that is the position I will continue to take.  We spend a lot of time going into organisations and government entities and talking about the future with the Executives and whilst some are cautious due to elections, Europe, the Australian $ etc. most are taking the view that we have work to do and no matter what governments are in office commerce still needs to keep moving along.

I for one have had a great 2011 and would like to thank our staff, candidates and most of all loyal and long-term clients who continue to work with our business.
Bring on 2012, we are all ready to hit it hard.

Written by Kim Ritchie