“Shovel ready” infrastructure projects are playing a starring role in Australian post-pandemic recovery as a way to create jobs and stimulate the economy.
But some experts are starting to wonder exactly who will be doing the work, when the all the industry was already facing skills shortages before these projects were fast-tracked.
David Stack is chief executive officer of CMR Civil Workforce, specialists in placing workers in the civil construction and wider construction sector. He’s warned that skills shortages might prevent these projects going ahead earlier than planned if the government doesn’t start upskilling the workforce.
And you can’t just get anyone into these days. Few who have lost their job due to Covid, such as workers in hospitality, tourism and events, have the skills or certification to start work immediately on the fast-tracked infrastructure projects, he says.
To get the most of its infrastructure-led recovery, which includes a $1.5 billion boost from the federal government, Australia will need to make sure it’s got people with the right training and accreditation, Mr Stack says.
There are ways to quickly upskill these individuals, however. You can put lower skilled workers in introductory positions and offer some on-the-job training. “That way they gradually step up to more skilled roles as they progress.”
According to UTS construction professor Martin Loosemore, there’s expected to be a shortage of 50 per cent of all construction occupations over the next five years.
Estimates show that the construction industry needs an extra 13,000 to 15,000 new apprentices every year and an additional 300,000 skilled workers nationally over the next decade, a 30 per cent increase on the current workforce.
ClimateClever growing nicely
It’s been a rocky month for most businesses, including those in the sustainability space, but some are emerging from the pandemic even stronger.
Western Australia-based ClimateClever founded by Vanessa Rauland is one such business. It provides online tools to help schools measure, monitor, compare and reduce their carbon footprint.
Although things looked a bit shaky for a minute when schools were closed the startup is now doing great.
It’s since launched an app aimed at helping households reduce their carbon footprint as well as a Local Government Partnership program: hiring two new recruits to get the work done and with 10 LGS already on board.
Joining the team as a junior programmer is Clayton Herbst. He’s recently been involved with a not-for-profit organisation called Teach Learn Grow, which seeks to bridge the gap between the learning outcomes of rural and urban students.
Ellie Salimi has also been brought onboard as a junior programmer. Ms Salimi is also a mentor at She Codes Australia, which teaches women coding skills, help sthem into technical careers, and builds communities of like-minded women.
But that’s not all, the company is about to be featured on a new documentary from Craig Reucassel (the ABC’s War on Waste) called Fight for Planet A: The Climate Challenge.
And thanks to donations from philanthropists, there will also be some free subscriptions to the app for schools across Australia.
In a first for the South Australia (and the whole of Australia, probably), the state government has appointed a board to oversee city-wide greening in Adelaide and has appointed a leadership team for the first time.
The “Green Adelaide” board is part of the Marshall government’s newly reformed landscape legislation. The board is intended to boost greenery in the city to improve urban ecologies as well as green and cool backyards, streets and neighbourhoods to support liveability in a changing climate.
International Koala Centre of Excellence chief executive officer and Cleland Wildlife Park chief strategic adviser, Professor Chris Daniels, has been appointed as the Presiding Member, and Dr Felicity-ann Lewis is the deputy chair. The other members are Claire Boan, Jeffrey Newchurch, Louka Parry, Adrian Skull, Trixie Smith, Kelvin Trimper and Dena Vassallo.
Sally Moxham has recently joined the ICLEI Oceania, an international organisation of local and regional governments committed to sustainable development. Ms Moxham is the new manager of strategy and partnerships for the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy.
Ms Moxham has worked in senior sustainability roles at various government organisations, including local government (City of Port Philip and Darebin City Council, both in Melbourne).
She has also been the manager for sustainable homes at Sustainability Victoria, and was chief executive officer of what was then Moreland Energy Council (now Australian Energy Foundation).
Wendy Bevan is the new chief executive officer of KESAB, a South Australian not-for-profit that provides community-based sustainability education programs. Ms Bevan is taking the reins from John Phillips, who is retiring tomorrow after more than 30 years.
Our pick of the jobs
Moreland City Council in Melbourne is looking for a climate emergency integration officer, a newly created role designed to raise staff awareness and understanding of the climate emergency and the role of local governments in addressing the crisis.
Consulting group Attexo Group is working on several wind and solar projects in Queensland so is looking for a senior environmental planner – renewables to help out.
If you love the ocean and all things fishy, the CSIRO is looking to fill a postdoctoral fellow position to develop and apply innovative environmental DNA (eDNA) methods for studying Australian marine fish biodiversity. The role will be based in Hobart.