Building sector tops employment

The MBAV reports that during 2017, full-time construction employment grew by 9 per cent in Victoria, adding about 20,100 new full-time jobs to the state economy. Radley de Silva explains why this matters.
The MBAV reports that during 2017, full-time construction employment grew by 9 per cent in Victoria, adding about 20,100 new full-time jobs to the state economy. Radley de Silva explains why this matters.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has made it official: the building and construction sector is now the biggest full-time employer in Victoria.

The ABS reported that by August 2017 construction had surpassed manufacturing as Victoria’s top full-time employer, accounting for 11.5 per cent of full-time employment with 242,900 jobs.

During 2017, full-time construction employment grew by 9 per cent, adding about 20,100 new full-time jobs to the state economy.

Why does this matter?

It highlights the extent to which our state relies on the steady planning and delivery of housing and infrastructure to sustain it as a great place to live and do business. It also points to what we, as Victorians, have to lose if we don’t make this possible.

Victoria’s current rapid population boom is already on the brink of overwhelming many city councils’ ability to meet approval deadlines, meaning even worse council planning delays and higher costs for homeowners and builders alike unless major reform is prioritised by this government.

Last year over 127,000 people added to the state population, and there is no slow-down in sight. We will need to build more than 2.2 million new homes by 2051. Planning delay pile-ups increase the cost of building at a time when Victorians are ill-equipped to shoulder that burden.

Across many councils, turnaround times for building approvals, for example, are significantly slower than the mandatory 60-day period—doubling and, in some cases, even tripling the amount of time before rendering a decision. Some of the reason for this is simply the increase in the number and complexity of applications made as our population grows.

For consumers and builders alike, it’s more than time wasted, it’s money.

As Victoria grows more rapidly than any other state, the importance of a minister for building, who can guide progress and coordinate the efforts of other cross-portfolio ministers, grows with it. It’s crucial that the government seizes this opportunity for progress. It becomes more urgent every day to provide the homes, aged care facilities, schools and transportation infrastructure we will need to accommodate the estimated 8 million residents by 2051.

This is a time when change and fast action on critical projects are of the utmost importance to Victorians, like long-needed planning reforms, trades registration and investment in training. If we match the need for reform with the ability to execute those reforms to drive jobs, business viability and growth, it is exciting to think of what could be achieved for the good of us all.

Radley de Silva is the CEO of the Master Builders Association of Victoria.