Massive rebound in civil construction business confidence

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 3, 2021

The civil construction industry is experiencing a massive rebound in business confidence, with new infrastructure activity good news for other sectors including transport.

The 2021 Construction Industry Survey found 50% of those polled feeling optimistic that the New Zealand construction industry is on the upward trajectory, and more than half predicting turnover and staff growth in the next 12 months.

The research found infrastructure activity is forecast to increase to $10.1 billion in 2025. Transport, water and subdivision projects dominated new infrastructure activity in 2020, contributing 85% of projects and 88% of total value.

Three Waters assets are projected to require between $120 billion and $180 billion investment over the next three decades, which supports the survey results where participants identified Three Waters projects and maintenance efforts with the most significant number of opportunities for increasing capability. This is followed closely by roading (24%), public transport (17%) and public infrastructure (16%).

However, skills shortages continue to be the industry’s number one challenge, with the survey showing a rise in the requirement for skilled staff to unprecedented levels due to growing workloads and closed borders.

“It’s encouraging to see the groundswell of optimism in New Zealand’s civil construction industry, which indicates the country is back to business-as-usual post-COVID,” said Civil Contractors New Zealand chief executive Peter Silcock.

“The future of construction in New Zealand certainly lies in keeping the people within this sector confident, so civil contractors can continue to invest in the right people, capability, and equipment for the work ahead.”

According to the report, as New Zealand eases out of Covid-19 restrictions, the construction industry has a renewed focus on both the issues and challenges. This may impact the potential growth they expect from the pipeline of work they have before them and on benefits they may achieve using emerging technologies.

“The industry has said, loudly and clearly, that they want local and central government to provide a clearer pipeline for upcoming work,” said Jim French, construction industry specialist, Teletrac Navman.

“However, the lack of clarity impacts their planning for manpower and resources in these uncertain times. Covid-19 still affects the industry, as border closures dampen hiring outside talent and delay the supply of building and construction materials,” he said.

“Renewed buoyancy on the other hand is putting the spotlight back into sustainability and environmental issues.”