Construction Engineers In Demand, But Where?

Recruitment company NES Global Talent assesses some of the key construction and infrastructure hot spots around the world, and looks at the skills that will be needed to meet demand.

Australia

Following the resources boom of the last ten years the Australian government is pumping revenue into the infrastructure market to stimulate the economy and promote jobs.

 With the availability of low-interest-rate funding and an influx of investment from China, both commercial and residential construction is booming. With work drying up in the resources-rich states in the west and north of the country, money is being drawn back to Sydney and Melbourne. Migration to these population centres requires new infrastructure, housing and services.

A number of major road projects are underway such as the Pacific Highway upgrade, along with infrastructure projects in new rail developments including the North West Rail Link,

West Connex, and the Sydney Light Rail Project. Major commercial projects include the Queens Wharf in Brisbane and the Aquis Casino in Cairns. Supporting these multibillion dollar projects are a vast array of large-scale residential projects which in turn have supported a variety of hospitals, schools and entertainment developments.

 

Which skills are in demand?

Civil engineering experience in both design and project management is now in demand, as are skills in overseeing residential and medium-sized commercial projects.

 

United Kingdom

The UK market is experiencing a similar boom period, buoyed by low interest rates and increased investment from the public and private sectors, and from overseas. There has been huge investment from China and a series of government initiatives such as Construction 2025 and the planned HS2/3 rail link will provide further boosts.

 Further impetus has been given by large projects such as the Hinkley Power Station, the Thames Tideway and the Asset Management Programme (AMP6).

The UK construction industry is now facing a new problem of a skills gap rather than a dearth of work. In its 2015 National Infrastructure Plan for Skills report, the UK government said: “With the growth in infrastructure investment, the pipeline creates a demand for over 250,000 construction and over 150,000 engineering construction workers by 2020, driving a need to recruit and train nearly 100,000 additional workers by the end of the decade.”

The government has introduced initiatives to tackle this problem such as a commitment to deliver three million apprenticeships and establish a network of Institutes of Technology to enable young people to follow a more technical education pathway. While a proportion of the skills needed will be met through new entrants to the sector, others will need to be delivered through retraining and up-skilling the existing workforce.

 

Which skills are in demand?

To resource these projects there will be a demand for construction managers, contracts managers, project managers, estimators, quantity surveyors and architects. New technical skills, including those which are digital and technology-based will also be in demand as major projects such as High Speed 2 move into delivery.

 

Middle East

The construction market in Qatar is one of the rapidly growing markets in the Middle East and is a popular destination for investment. The country is poised for increased activity in its construction sector, driven by the FIFA World Cup competition in 2022 and the government’s long-term economic development plan, Qatar National Vision 2030.

 As well as the FIFA World Cup in 2022 and the scaling up of its investment to deliver the Qatar National Vision 2030, there are also a number of other major projects on the horizon, including the US$7bn deep water port and a US$1bn transportation corridor in the capital city Doha. New roads, stadia and facilities will account for a further US$200bn in spending over the next ten years. Nearly US$350bn of projects are currently in the planning or construction phase. Alongside the infrastructure and construction markets, around US$60bn is expected to be spent on hotel, leisure, tourism, sports, recreational and infrastructure projects including the US$15.5bn Long Distance Rail and Doha Metro Project.

 

Which skills are in demand?

All engineering disciplines and project management personnel will be required for the projects. While the majority of projects are managed by the PMC employees, there are still opportunities for third parties.

 

United States

Despite the recent drop in the oil price, there is strong growth in civil infrastructure, healthcare, and education-related projects which is keeping commercial construction strong in the US.

 There are a number of major sports facilities projects underway and in design phase, including NFL stadia in Atlanta, San Diego, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Washington DC and Las Vegas with project values from US$1-3bn. Supporting these multi-billion dollar projects are a vast array of large scale residential, hotel, restaurant and retail projects.

Large infrastructure projects are also underway, such as the Grand Parkway in Houston which consists of 38 miles of high-access roadway, more than 120 bridges, intermittent

frontage roads and comprehensive utility infrastructure which will cost approximately US$1.1bn. Another infrastructure project of note is the expansion of the Panama Canal, which has been reported to be US$5.3bn in value and has ports along the Gulf of Mexico and East Coast investing in their infrastructure to support the increase of traffic and size of vessels that will be coming through.

Other industries that are growing are healthcare and education, with states releasing funds to provide for new K-12 and higher education projects. Texas, Florida, California and the East Coast are building healthcare and medical office buildings to accommodate the aging population and meet demand for flexible services.

 

Which skills are in demand?

Construction experience in project supervision and project management is in high demand as well as candidates with large healthcare and infrastructure project experience who have civil engineering or construction management degrees.

 

Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is still suffering under the strain of limited public transport options and stifling traffic congestion, which means rail transport has been identified as a key area of investment. The government has highlighted public transport to have a modal share of 40% by 2030, compared to the current 20-25%.

 There are also a number of infrastructure projects underway in Malaysia, including the LRT extension of Kelana Jaya, and Ampang lines, which are due for completion in the summer of 2016. Phase one of MRT 1, the first line of the Klang Valley MRT, which is 51km long and consists of 31 stations, is due for completion in Dec 2016 with phase two expected to be completed by summer 2017.

There are also three further high profile rail projects planned including phase two of the MRT. LRT 3 has already begun in early 2016 and is expected to be operational by August 2020. LRT 3 is the first rail project in Malaysia that uses green technology applications including water retention, energy efficiency and natural air flows.

Looking to the future the HSR (high speed rail) between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and the Pan Borneo Highway, are two further projects ready to be given the green light.

 

Which skills are in demand?

Design engineering including civil, structural, M&E, track and alignment, signalling, rolling stock and tunneling are all skills in demand. Also sought are construction

managers, contracts managers, delivery managers, quality and HSE personnel.

There is a growing emphasis to hire Malaysians for the listed key projects, but due to the large number of projects and a skills shortages in many key areas the demand will outweigh  supply.