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Industry Insights 2/11/2017

The Victorian Infrastructure Boom and What It Means for You

Will Tilley
By Will Tilley
The Victorian Infrastructure Boom and What It Means for You

State of Play

It’s unlikely to be a surprise to anyone now, but the Infrastructure Market in Victoria is BOOMING. That said, we haven’t even come close to the peak yet. We will see almost unprecedented demand across the infrastructure sector as we enter 2018, and this will bring about huge change to the industry.

The industry is already feeling the impacts of a busy market. VicRoads have twice put the next section of the M80 out for Expressions of Interest, the first in May received only one, and after five signalled intent to express interest the second-time round, only two ended up doing so. This is likely due to a number of contributing factors, but there is no doubt that the lack of available resources contributed to some contractors deciding not to bid.

The “War for Talent” has begun, but as Bachman-Turner Overdrive sang “You ain’t seen nothing yet”. With the Giant PPP’s of the Metro Tunnel and West Gate Tunnel to take on around 1500 white collar positions between them alone, there will likely be significant movement in the industry as people try to position themselves in their project and/or employer of choice.

There will of course also be significant movement based around salaries, which undoubtedly will jump again. We’ve seen significant movement in this area over the past 18 months, and while salaries have held reasonably steady since March this year we are likely to see another significant push in the first half of 2018.

 

What does this mean for you?

Employers

Some things will never change, you want the best employees you can get your hands on, and you want to keep them once you’ve got them. But in an environment where we will see even Site Engineers offered $10,000 – $15,000 and sometimes more to jump ship, how do you hold onto your best and brightest? It’s easy to say “look after them”, but what works?

  1. Keep them busy, interested and engaged. Seems simple doesn’t it? If they are busy and enjoying their work, they’re less likely to answer or return a call regarding another role.
  2. Make sure you’re keeping your salary benchmarking current. In this market, that might mean quarterly instead of annually or bi-annually. This is one area where working closely with a Recruitment Consultant with strong industry knowledge and networks can be very helpful for your business for something other than sending you CV’s.
  3. Avoid bringing in new hires on significantly more money than current employees. Offering the money will help you attract new employees, but it won’t help you retain your current employees.
  4. Create a point of difference where you can. Money is definitely a motivator, but it’s not the be all and end all. Can you provide more flexibility or a better work/life balance? Can you offer a stronger path to career growth?
  5. People want to feel valued, and a huge salary isn’t going to cut it here. Make your employees feel like they are people, not a cog in a machine. Family days, team outings, Friday night drinks or even just a “thank you” or “well done” can go a long way.

 

Employees

You are going to get calls from companies and recruiters. Almost constantly. That is the nature of the beast that is the infrastructure market in Victoria currently – and for probably the next decade. Of course you want to make the most of it, but how do you do that?

  1. Work out what your goals are. Where do you want to see yourself in 5 years’ time? Look at this holistically, and assess your life goals and career goals together. If you have a strong understanding of where you are looking to go, you can narrow your focus and block out all the other noise.
  2. Money isn’t everything to everyone. Remember this when you are looking at a new opportunity. Can the company offer a career pathway? Is that important to you? Is the project appealing to you? Is it the right cultural fit? Make sure you ask these questions of yourself, and ask questions when interviewing that will give you this information. There is no right or wrong, just what is right for you.
  3. In this environment, it’s more likely that jobs will be presented to you than you applying for roles. They may come thick and fast. As mentioned above, if you have a strong idea of which roles will be of interest you can effectively screen the others out. If a role sounds interesting and there could be a genuine opportunity to move closer to your goals, put yourself out there and remember… There’s no commitment until you sign on the dotted line. You can have a conversation and decide it’s not for you without harming future chances.
  4. That brings us neatly into the next point – Build your network. The worst thing that can happen from going to an interview and deciding not to accept a role is that you’ve met someone else in the industry that you may come across again, or who may be able to help you out down the track. As big as the industry is, it’s also quite small, so be sure not to burn too many bridges along your journey.
  5. Finally, keep your wits. You will likely be promised all kinds of things by both potential employers and recruiters – sometimes out of desperation. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Fact check, ask questions, and do your due diligence.

In my admittedly somewhat biased (but also very genuine) opinion as a Recruitment Consultant in this market, I would highly recommend both employers and employees build a strong relationship with one or two (ideally no more) recruitment consultants, who have strong networks in your area, and genuine knowledge of the market they operate in. These relationships will prove invaluable to you as you navigate the boom, and will provide you with genuine insight beyond job offers (for employees) or a bunch of CV’s in your inbox (for employers).