Resourcing the new Infrastructure State. A challenge for Victoria?

Victoria – The Infrastructure State. It could be a number plate. The Melbourne Metro Rail project is underway, level crossings are being replaced, plans for ‘sky rail’ continue to cause controversy and an airport train could be back on the agenda. For roads, the Tulla freeway is being widened, the West Gate and Bolte will get improvements, and the Victorian Government is considering a proposal to build the ‘missing link’ Western Distributor.

Last December at the Engineers Australia Transport Year in Review, I listened with interest to Corey Hannett, Coordinator General, Major Transport Infrastructure Program on the current infrastructure program of works scheduled for Victoria. From a project resourcing point of view, the Government’s main concern is the lack of skilled project leaders to deliver this ambitious program of works.

Key themes presented were:

  • Ensuring the right balance between public and private resources to manage multiple, overlapping projects within optimum timelines
  • Sourcing skilled project leaders across different disciplines, including CEOs, Project Directors, and Senior Project Managers
  • Diversity in the Construction sector

From an executive recruitment perspective, these concerns certainly mirror our experience when consulting with organisations in building, construction and engineering over the last 12 months: Demand for experienced, diverse and specialist talent is at a premium. As the momentum for construction work Australia-wide continues to gather pace, the question remains how do we address this to help the immediate needs of Victoria?

There are serious concerns about poaching staff being felt across the sector, which is experiencing significant problems with retention (a fact that’s not lost on us when headhunting). Here are three points that were raised to consider when hiring, which also resonated with me:

  • When considering a candidate’s abilities, look for transferable skills, taking the time to consider all of their work history, not just the first page of the CV
  • You don’t need someone who has done the exact same job, you need someone who can do the job
  • Victorian employers may benefit from staff attrition with the completion of major projects interstate or could source talent from other sectors where demand has subsided, such as mining (particularly in WA and QLD)

I will be a keen observer over the next few years to see whether we have the appetite to meet the talent demands of the Infrastructure State.

What measures do you think are needed to address talent shortages for major infrastructure projects in your state? Share your point of view to continue the conversation.

Matthew Love

Matthew is a construction and engineering recruitment specialist who has a demonstrated history of delivering senior level search assignments for clients across the globe. Matt prides himself on developing ongoing relationships with both candidates and clients alike and is driven to achieve positive outcomes for all parties. Matt's philosophy to recruitment is that the best candidate for job is rarely ever the best candidate 'available'. He prides himself on his ability to find candidates that do not want to be found.

Matthew Love
Senior Consultant
Technical & Operations
Slade Executive Recruitment
Level 7, 15 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 3 9235 5100
mlove@sladegroup.com.au
sladegroup.com.au

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One comment on “Resourcing the new Infrastructure State. A challenge for Victoria?
  1. Kirsty White says:

    Matthew – I think all of your comments are 100% valid, however while we remain within restrictive competency profiling for major rail projects this is a lofty goal. Potential recruits need to have worked in the industry in order to obtain the authority to work. In most situations they need to have worked in the same field in Victoria to keep working. While this situation remains unchanged, there remain significant and new challenges for recruitment for these positions.

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