The Australian Constructors Association welcomes the Infrastructure Market Capacity Report released by Infrastructure Australia today.

Australian Constructors Association CEO Jon Davies said the report highlights the urgency for reforms aimed at improving productivity to deliver the infrastructure pipeline.

“With demand for labour forecast to increase by 75 per cent over the next three years, change is needed now, or the nation’s economic recovery will be put at risk,” said Mr Davies.

“Every $1 spent on new infrastructure has a $3 kick on to the wider economy—that’s why governments around the word have invested record investment in infrastructure.

“With international borders closed and high demand for workers when they do open, industry reforms must focus on driving productivity and innovation, as recommended by Infrastructure Australia—so we can do more with less.

“Part of the solution is government shifting its mindset to start buying its infrastructure based on best value not lowest cost at the tender box.

“The current focus on lowest cost can be partially blamed for the slow adoption of productivity enhancing digital technologies and adversarial behaviour in the industry.

“With a focus on value, we will maximise benefits for the local community, increase training outcomes, drive innovation, reduce our impact on the environment and significantly improve productivity.”

The Infrastructure Market Capacity Report also highlights the cultural challenges facing the industry which are making it difficult to attract and retain workers.

“Long shifts, off-peak work, perceptions of ‘dog-eat-dog’ environments are all driven by a race to the bottom at tender.

“The industry’s unhealthy culture needs to be addressed and this includes making it a more attractive career for the other half of the working population who currently choose not to work in the industry—women.

“Women make up just 12% of the workforce and while female representation is improving, it is not occurring fast enough.”

Various state-based reform initiatives are underway to improve the effectiveness and value of government procurement and industry culture such as the Construction Industry Leadership Forum and Construction Industry Culture Taskforce.

“State-based reform initiatives are a good start, but widespread adoption is needed to deliver the pipeline of work ahead of us and the only way to achieve this is for the Federal Government to coordinate and incentivise reform.

“This latest report reaffirms urgent calls to establish a Federally led government and industry collaborative leadership group.”