Construction industry survey hammers home skills shortages


As demand for construction surges, the industry is constrained by capacity, compliance and sluggish contract turnaround times.

Results from the first New Zealand Construction Industry Survey reveal a staggering 84% of those in construction industry management roles (general, project and fleet managers) identify labour and skills shortages as a major issue facing the industry, with 69% of all respondents agreeing.

Almost two thirds of respondents (64%) anticipate that they will be needing more staff in the upcoming year.

So severe is the shortage that 84% of respondents say they would hire immediately if labour with the right skills was available.


A big ‘if’

That’s a big “if”, as finding skilled, motivated workers who can pass workplace drug testing is proving to be a real challenge.

Presented at the Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ) annual conference in Dunedin, the survey is a joint research project between Teletrac Navman, CCNZ and Contractor magazine.

The survey gauged the attitudes of people in the construction industry on a wide range of issues regarding productivity, training, staffing, safety, measurement and the use of technology.

“We want a strong, successful and productive industry, but need change. Focus should be on reducing approval and turnaround times for projects, and improving collaboration between the public and private sectors,” CCNZ chief executive Peter Silcock says.

“We can’t do it alone. We need local councils and central government to work with us to complete projects efficiently and to a high standard,” he says.

A significant 74% of owners and directors identify compliance costs as the most important area requiring change in the New Zealand construction industry, as do 57% of all survey respondents.


Better, not more, regulation wanted

The need for better, not more, regulations is the prevalent view held by 80% of respondents.

Other key areas requiring change are the approval and turnaround time on construction projects (34%), and collaborative private-public partnerships to enable future planning and sensible operating environments (33%).

Despite the challenges, the survey indicates positive attitudes towards industry growth, a dedication to workplace health and safety, and smart thinking around improving productivity.


Forward thinking and optimism

“Overall, there’s a strong feeling of optimism, and plenty of forward thinking from the survey respondents,” Teletrac Navman construction industry specialist Jim French says.

“Building a strong reputation, being customer focused, developing skillsets, and investing in technology are key opportunities identified for businesses.

“We are very proud to be leading this research project which provides a good insight into the industry.

“I hope it encourages industry leaders, the wider construction community and government to tackle the issues together.”

The New Zealand Construction Industry Survey is available to download at

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