Australia's construction industry back on track: report

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-29 10:59:45|Editor: Song Lifang
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SYDNEY, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Australia's construction industry is set to recover after three years of downturn, according to a report released on Thursday by a leading industry group.

The Construction Outlook survey, conducted by the Ai Group and the Australian Constructors Association, found that after an 8-percent drop off in major project work in 2016, they forecast that work will see an increase of 4.3 percent in 2017, followed by another 6.4-percent spike in 2018.

This work involves engineering and non-residential building activity, and is buoyed by a 2.9-percent increase in engineering construction in 2017, after a severe 16.5-percent downturn last year.

Engineering construction also increased by 2.8 percent in the March quarter, with a total value of 20.3 billion Australian dollars (15.55 billion U.S. dollars), but Craig James, chief economist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, told Xinhua that this news is to be taken with a grain of salt.

"Work done was down 12.5 percent on a year ago. But while work done for the private sector was down 22.4 percent over the year, work done for the public sector was up by 10.2 percent," James said.

"While outstanding work is at seven-and-a-half year lows, the value of the projects is still double the level that prevailed a decade ago," he added.

Chief executive of Ai Group Innes Willox said that the results indicate that Australia is finally "leaving behind" the period of growth dominated by the mining and energy-related products boom.

The hope for increased growth was shared by the executive director of the Australian Constructors Association, Lindsay Le Compte, who said that a plan of action has to be entered into now to ensure that Australia is ready to capitalize on the opportunities ahead.

"Now is the time for action to attract a larger workforce and upskill existing workers to enable the industry to respond to the projected growth in activity over coming years," Le Compte said.

"Action is needed to provide sufficient workforce capacity to undertake current and projected projects, as well as build the workforce of the future to deliver on the fast-paced development of innovation and technology in construction."

"This will require new approaches to trade-based as well as university training, but the future looks bright for those who take up the opportunities available," she added.

The future growth driver in Australia over the next few years, according to James, will be "broader economic and social infrastructure building" to be actioned primarily by state and federal governments in Australia.