InfrastructureDecember 17, 2021

A year in review and a look forward

With December upon us, it’s time to farewell a year unlike any other. 2021 presented a unique set of challenges, with the ongoing COVID pandemic resulting in extended lockdowns, labour shortages, supply chain delays and a never-before-seen total shutdown of the construction industry.

When co-founders Robert Clowes and Robert Reeves started Infrastructure People in mid 2020, they could never have predicted what the coming years had in store. But, as Albert Einstein said, in the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity.

Despite the ongoing issues, there’s every reason to be positive as spending on infrastructure is only set to grow. The Australian government has committed to spending a record $110 billion on infrastructure as part of the National Economic Recovery Plan. Major public infrastructure activity is set to approximately double over the next three years, peaking at $52 billion in 2023.

Skill Shortage

In 2023 the expected shortfall in jobs being filled will exceed 105,000, with one in three jobs advertised going unfilled and the demand for labour will be fives times that in 2017-2019. The skills shortage will continue to present a major challenge and developing an adequately skilled local workforce is not a short-term solution; it will require years of input from government and private industry. Infrastructure People is committed to working with the industry to find or train these skilled workers.

We’ve also learned a lot this year, looking at what the industry will need and how we can best support it. These are our top five takeaways from 2021:

  • Collaboration is key – there needs to be a commitment to a new way of working where government and the private sector collaborate to deliver enhanced benefits for both parties.
  • Build resilience into your planning – resilience is not just about responding to a specific crisis. It’s about having the capacity to change before the case for change becomes desperately obvious.
  • Adapt or perish – embedding adaptability allows you to rethink a plan, adjust a budget, repurpose infrastructure and keep moving forwards in the face of uncertainty.
  • Prioritise productivity – productivity in construction consistently lags behind other industries. There needs to be an increased focus on innovation, efficiency, collaboration and derisking to boost productivity.
  • It’s time to shake up the culture – the infrastructure and construction industries have serious culture challenges that need to be addressed in order to achieve growth. They are costing the economy up to $8 billion a year. Key among these is the lack of female representation; 2022 should be the year that we start to close the gender gap.

So what does all this mean for the future – and, most importantly, for Infrastructure People? These are the trends that will help shape the industry and put it on a solid path to recovery. The unique business model of Infrastructure People means we are in an ideal position to meet the industry’s needs, providing the right people for the right roles, working with companies to improve culture and tapping into our vast network of experts. In preparation for the industry’s changing needs, we are also transitioning to a Resource Management model that will offer and enhanced service and more solutions for our partners. We’re breaking boundaries every day and we will keep doing so into 2022 and beyond.


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