Residential construction if forecast to provide a strong contribution to growth in 2014.
Residential construction if forecast to provide a strong contribution to growth in 2014. Claudia Baxter

Positive outlook for construction industry jobs

OFFICIAL building approval figures for the first two months of this year have taken economists on a roller coaster ride, but the long-term outlook for residential construction remains at all-time highs.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported a near 7% jump in new approvals in January, offset by a 5% drop in February.

Economists were expecting a smaller decrease in February (something around 2%), but remain positive that the more stable trend figures (as opposed to looking at individual months) will translate to a strengthening construction industry through 2014.

St George economist Janu Chan told the ABC approvals are now at their highest level since records began in 1983.

"We do expect that to lift throughout this year and for residential construction to provide a strong contribution to growth in 2014," she said.

JP Morgan's analysis of the data also found a trend towards detached housing, a positive for the construction sector as such projects tend to be more labour intensive.

In Queensland, construction job growth is expected to spike in the three "Brisbane hinterland" regions - Toowoomba and the Gold and Sunshine coasts, while the resources sector will continue to drive jobs in Mackay, Gladstone and Rockhampton.

The Deloitte Access Economics report forecasts an extra 37,000 people will be needed to keep Queensland's construction sector ticking.

According to the Annual Skills Priority Report, as mining construction winds down, "major population centres in the south-east of the state are projected to see significant growth in their construction workforces".

In New South Wales, the State Government has signed an agreement with the Master Builders Association of NSW to provide more jobs and training opportunities for Aboriginal people in the construction sector.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Victor Dominello said the agreement aimed to improve employment and job retention outcomes across industries including mining, construction and manufacturing.