Construction & infrastructure

The construction and infrastructure sector includes building (residential and commercial), as well as infrastructure projects such as roads, subdivisions, and utilities such as energy and the Three Waters.

Young male builder drop sawing timber.

Photo: Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei

It includes manufactured products (including pipes, prefabricated housing and plasterboard), many of which are produced in Tāmaki Makaurau factories.

The growing worldwide industry is characterised by low productivity and skills and labour shortages. The Construction Sector Accord was launched in 2019 to bring together industry and government leaders, to address these challenges in Aotearoa New Zealand. In 2021, the RSLG partnered with the BCITO industry training organisation to stage deep-dive workshops with employers, learners, and education and training organisations in Tāmaki Makaurau.

The workshops helped the BCITO develop its Workforce Information Platform for Tāmaki Makaurau. The workshops supported industry ownership, provided insights and were supported by analysis from the BCITO Workforce Information Platform, which has informed the Group’s thinking (Waihanga Ara Rau, forthcoming, May 2022. Regional Workforce Report). This digital platform is able to predict employment and skill requirements for the construction and infrastructure workforce based on the nature, value and timing of infrastructure projects in the region. The RSLG will use and share this tool with industry, economic development and vocational education collaborators to help plan labour market strategies for construction and infrastructure in the region.

A lag in regional housing and infrastructure investment, population growth, and the boom-and-bust nature of the industry, means that Tāmaki Makaurau region’s Construction and Infrastructure sector is experiencing acute skills and labour shortages, even as private sector and central government investment is projected to rise over the next 2 to 3 years.

The Workforce Development Council for Construction and Infrastructure represented by Waihanga Ara Rau in Tāmaki Makaurau accounts for 40% of national construction investment, and employs 34% of the national workforce.

The industry comprises building construction, construction services and heavy and civil engineering construction and it employed 93,961 people in 2021, representing 10.2% of the total Tāmaki Makaurau workforce. Māori and Pacific workers are prominent both at the entry level, and increasingly as successful leaders and business owners, with growing numbers of Māori businesses accessing government contracts aimed at increasing supplier diversity . A total of 15-18% of the workforce are women, so increasing their employment is a clear opportunity.

State of the sector(external link) — Construction Accord

Construction and infrastructure workforce information platform(external link)

Regional Skills Outlook(external link) — Infometrics

National construction pipeline report 2021 [PDF, 1.6 MB]

New procurement targets for Māori businesses(external link) — New Zealand Government Procurement

Construction sector accord partnership builds sustainable workforce(external link) — Diversity Works NZ

Waihanga Ara Rau

The Workforce Development Council for Construction and Infrastructure is Waihanga Ara Rau, which represents industries including construction, concrete, plumbing, infrastructure, water, gas, electricity, telecommunication and roading. The RSLG has been working with Waihanga Ara Rau to better coordinate workforce-related challenges for the sector in Tāmaki Makaurau. In 2021, Waihanga Ara Rau Workforce Development Council accounted for 7,387 filled jobs with a contribution of $614.0 million to GDP. The highest occurring job, constituting 10.3% of the workforce, was project builders. The Workforce Development Council also accounted for 7.1% of Māori employees (Infometrics, 2022).

Waihanga Ara Rau(external link)

Tāmaki Makaurau region’s Construction and Infrastructure workforce includes a high proportion of migrant workers (estimated to be 12-18% ), and COVID-19 border closures have affected the availability of specialist expertise on projects such as the $4.42 billion City Rail Link, and $1 billion Central Interceptor. COVID-19’s project delivery impact was limited. Manufacturing sites were more affected, leading to supply challenges that were compounded by global supply chain issues. On the job training, including for apprentices, was affected by lockdowns. More innovative employers sought to build the digital literacy and confidence of workers who may not previously have needed those skills. 1 in 10 industry workers have no formal qualifications, rising to 30% of workers in casual labour hire.

Construction workforce issues [PDF, 982 KB]

Tewaihanga data project(external link) — New Zealand Infrastructure Commission – Te Waihanga

Replacing the 3 Rs with 3 Ps – project, pandemic, progress(external link) — City Rail Link

The forward pipeline offers certainty, encouraging business and workforce development and investment in upskilling. The region is well served by vocational and tertiary education, including via Te Pūkenga tertiary institutions in the south and west, professional qualifications offered by universities, and on-job training delivered by Waihanga Ara Rau. The RSLG wants to understand scope for additional vocational training delivery in the north of the region (MartinJenkins, forthcoming, 2021. Draft report: A Vocational Education Road Map. Auckland: Te Pūkenga), and to see more secondary school trades academy students progress directly into employment and apprenticeships.

“More collaborative industry support for new workers - Incentives to take on local people - third party support for people in their first year of work - Free apprenticeship scheme - Funding models to include more opportunities to support worker wrap-around support - Low pay during the training period, not sustainable for everyone - opportunities to create more transparent pathways and an industry brand that people want to be a part of and see a future in.”

Participant voices on supporting a future workforce – Auckland Construction and Infrastructure workforce forecasting workshop – May 2021 organised by the RSLG, BCITO and the Construction Accord

Construction and infrastructure labour market and workforce insights

  • Employers are supporting quality employment outcomes for Māori and Pacific rangatahi. The City Rail Link progressive employment initiative is an example of leading practice.
  • Employee poaching is still common, and typical during boom periods, but does not lead to sustainable wage growth, and undermines collaboration and partnership efforts.
  • Technology use is growing i.e., prefabricated housing, building information modelling, use of digital twins as illustrated by Construction Sector Accord beacon projects.
  • Contracted self-employment arrangements are common in the industry, pushing risks onto the workers and acting as a barrier to training and apprenticeships due to the lack of internal infrastructure.
  • The Developing a skilled civil construction workforce report (2022) highlights Tāmaki Makaurau workforce issues.

Regional Skills Outlook(external link) — Infometrics

City rail link progressive employment programme(external link)

Construction sector accord beacon projects(external link)

Developing a skilled civil construction contractors workforce report(external link)

Construction and infrastructure actions

  • The RSLG supports the building of visible and sustainable career pathways, drawing on the skills and knowledge – for example, mentoring and coaching skills of the senior workforce – to develop career next steps.
  • The RSLG advocates construction and infrastructure training is effectively delivered and tailored to future regional needs.
  • The RSLG promotes the use of the Workforce Information Platform to inform the region of future employment and skill requirements in the construction and infrastructure sector.
  • The RSLG supports initiatives to grow future Māori and Pacific industry leaders and businesses in Tāmaki Makaurau.