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As the largest technical recruiter across the construction space, we have seen first-hand just how the issue of skills shortage is becoming. Every organisation has a perspective on the topic, and as recruiters, we have a unique and privileged insight. Meeting with job seekers every day, we have exposure to candidate and client behaviours, and therefore we are well positioned to provide an informed perspective. This week, we attended an event hosted by the Civil Contractors Federation, which further confirmed three key points around the topic. 

The reality is, that the skills shortage and labour has always been an issue in SA – it’s not something new, it has just become bigger, and increased demand has ignited an issue that has always been there. South Australia seems to go through peaks and troughs when it comes to volume of work being rolled out across the state. This has created uncertainty and concern from those within the industry, providing no confidence in relocating to Adelaide or remaining in SA long-term. Accessing and retaining talent has become such an issue that it will be the biggest challenge for organisations and the industry in 2022. Beyond the current demand, we need to ensure that we invest to ensure there is a continued pipeline of work and associated confidence in South Australia and the construction industry.  

Over the last 9 months we have identified the opportunity to engage more with an interstate talent pool, with a greater number of SA repats now considering a move back than what we have seen traditionally over the past 5-10 years. Through these conversations, the general feedback is around the idea of “is SA really a booming market?” Interstate workers simply don’t have a high level of confidence in how great our state really is and the level of activity that is now being delivered and considered. In other states, we are seeing and hearing advertising campaigns across different mediums to promote the greatness of the state and the opportunities they have to offer. We have been engaging in serious discussions over a period of time around the number of opportunities that are available within our state, in attempt to build that confidence in Adelaide being an amazing place to live and one that provides a strong avenue for skilled and unskilled workers. 

So, what is the solution? Whilst we have a significant short-term issue that will be problematic over the next 18-24 months that we need to address, we need to implement medium and longer-term solutions to ensure that as a state, and as an industry, we are better positioned to address skills and resourcing. What does that mean? In the short-term, we need be targeted and bold to ensure we attract more interstate and overseas migration. We are in the midst of a seismic shift of how people view their environment and how they live, and there has never been a better time than now to leverage what South Australia can offer with the level of construction activity and the scale of projects. As an industry we tend to focus on the current issue, however longer term – as identified by both parties in this election – we must ensure that there is reform and significant investment in training programs created in partnership with the industry.