Construction workforce in our own backyard

While labour shortages in the construction industry remain an issue, some companies are looking to the obvious to increase their workforce numbers.

Infrastructure Australia’s Market Capacity 2022 Report, released in late December, details the demand for major public infrastructure projects climbing by $15 billion in one year and projections for the labour market this year.

“In 2023, labour demand is projected to increase 42,000 to a peak of 442,000,” IA stated. “This is more than double the projected available supply.”

Labour scarcity is the single biggest issue faced by construction companies, according to Infrastructure Australia, and while many bemoan the shortage of workers from overseas, one company is looking to Australia’s own population.

NPM Indigenous is utilising First Nations’ workers for its construction business and the rate currently sitting at 60% and aiming for 100 in the near future.

“Speaking from experience, there are only positives to gain,” co-founder Daniel Alfonso told ABC News.

“Look after our backyard first and we can provide great outcomes like this. [It’s a] golden opportunity here to make a big change in generations.”

The company plans to take as many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employers, women and men, qualified or not, to fill the gap in the construction industry’s labour shortage. Tjarani Barton-Vaofaunua made the switch to construction a year ago, with NPM, after working in communications – and has never looked back.

“It’s been a really fun roller-coaster,” she told ABC News. “I’m just learning so many different things about the industry like how to work with clients, how to work with community, and I’m just really enjoying the new skill set.” Image: ABC News

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is the Editor of Concrete in Australia and at the helm of our magazine for 8 years. She was behind the Institute's weekly news bulletins from 2016-2021 and is now writing our focused news items. Desi has been an engineering news and features journalist/editor across all disciplines since 2013 - part of a 30-year career writing for a wide range of industries.