TP Human Capital Job Report Feb/Mar 2024

TP Human Capital Seek Job numbers 2024

Introduction

The official workforce recalibration for Townsville has been completed.  In February 2024 Townsville Region workforce official rate of jobs growth was still declining.  Staff shortages and cost of living conditions continue to frustrate many local businesses.  Job adverts were similar in March 2024 to March 2023.  There is a strong pipeline of local significant projects, but can they all be built?  Stadium Season has started, while cruise ship season ends.  Local residential home production is insufficient, affecting external recruitment.  Townsville region needs an Olympics Skills Security plan to manage skill retention and recruitment.

Townsville Region Jobs Performance

TP Human Capital Managing Director Clayton Cook said “ Official job numbers for Townsville Region are 131,900, down 1.7% in four months.  Townsville Regions unemployment rate is 3.6%, better than RBA Full Employment.  Participation has fallen 1.4 points to 70.1%.

Local Labour Demand

Recent job adverts on SEEK revealed a diversified portfolio of jobs on offer across the Townsville Region.  The highest number of jobs advertised were in Trades followed by Healthcare and Education.  In total, on 28/03/2024, there were 1,885 (new & older) Townsville Region jobs advertised on SEEK. This is similar compared to last month.   Sixty Eight percent of job adverts were for full time positions.

 

Significant Projects

Townsville Regional is expected to benefit from a variety of current and future projects like Copperstring, Hydrogen production and Army movements.  Importantly, all these projects require supporting infrastructure, like housing, to optimise economic and social potential.  However, there is a shortage of appropriate accommodation and very strong competition for skilled workers which will become more competitive as building the Brisbane Olympics becomes increasingly urgent. Townsville is a city recovering from a long period of economic underperformance, a city with economic potential but a city that has a poor national social wellbeing reputation and consequently, there’s risk of unrealised potential.

TP Human Capital Townsville Identified Projects

 

Defence Priorities
Future Flood and Cyclone recovery work
Council Capital Expenditure Budget
Sun Metals Energy Projects
Nickel Sulphate Refinery
Queensland Country Bank Stadium Maintenance
Water pipeline duplication
Hydrogen Projects
TUH Health Facilities expansion
Copper String 2.0
CBD Upgrades
NW rail maintenance
Lansdown industrial precinct
Bruce highway upgrades
State Education investment
Ross Creek Bar
Residential Apartments
REEF HQ redevelopment
Residential Houses
Burdekin Shire Capex
Regional Mines
TTP& North Rail yards
Genex Kidston Project
Building Approvals, Commercial, pools and other
JCU CapX
Drive It upgrades
Palm Island Investment
Burdekin Dam Wall Raising
Charters Towers Investment
Hinchinbrook Investment
Paluma To Wallaman Walking trail
Upgrade Townsville Sports facilities ?
Critical Mineral Projects

 

With insufficient skilled local construction workers, insufficient local accommodation, increasing national and intrastate competition for skilled workers, industry retirements and relocations and strong competition from future projects like Brisbane Olympics building program, some local projects are expected to be delayed.

Townsville Map

Local Business Conditions

Many local businesses are experiencing record high operating costs with subsequent increasing pressure on workforce recruitment and training budgets.  Insufficient or inappropriate local accommodation is reducing local business ability to replace staff or scale up operations. In some local businesses, those dependant on discretionary expenditure, many are experiencing decreased demand due to high consumer cost of living. Some sectors are experiencing growth conditions, like real estate and construction, but a severe accommodation shortage is restricting business plans.  There is still evidence of FIFO activity and external overseas outsourcing.

Housing Crisis and Solutions

The residential construction sector is a crucial element in a local economy and local business depend on a health residential market to operate successfully.  The residential construction sector is experiencing tougher conditions than many other sectors.  Townsville has a residential construction worker shortage, and each year loses a significant number of workers through retirement and relocation.

Townsville faces an impossible task to find sufficient tradespeople to meet its new home needs and every year Townsville doesn’t produce sufficient numbers of homes, compounds its inability to achieve future housing targets.  The local housing target is further hampered by major projects in other locations that lure Townsville workers. Adding complexity to a difficult situation, major local projects also absorb local workers.  Finally, a significant portion of residential construction workers retire each year. It’s stating the obvious, but Townsville needs to increase the number of workers in residential construction and improve residential construction innovation.  It’s a multifactorial challenge that requires a sophisticated collaborative solution.

Solutions Suggestions and Questions

The TP Human Capital Population report identified net overseas migration of 1,693 and net domestic migration of 409.  Townsville needs to be more strategic about the domestic and overseas migrants it attracts. Prioritise migrants that can build stuff.

  • How does Townsville retain the current residential construction workforce?
  • Can Townsville Increase training, apprenticeships and innovate trade registrations?
  • Can Townsville prioritise local residential construction or share resources?

Encouraging Innovation such as developing local prefabrication methods in residential construction could offset the need for more workers. What other innovations could reduce the need for scarce workers?

Townsville needs to build more homes, manage complex economic conditions and improve accommodation options so sufficient recruitment can be achieved.  Simultaneously Townsville needs to plan for inevitable workforce relocations during the Brisbane Olympics build program.

 

Conclusion

Townsville Region is at Reserve Bank of Australia defined Full Employment.  The demand for labour across Townsville Region remains solid.  Many businesses are experiencing severe cost constraints and/or lower demand. Interest rates are influencing the rate of job growth in Townsville.  The number of new dwellings being constructed is insufficient.  The residential vacancy rate is tight.  A shortage of local homes is affecting recruitment.  Wages are rising, in some industries faster than inflation.  High insurance and a poor national crime reputation are influencing recruitment. There is a strong pipeline of local Significant Projects, but with strong competition from current and future projects we expect some local projects to be delayed. Stadium Season has started.  Cruise ships season has ended with a $4m impact or about $228.5 per passenger/crew.  The Townsville region needs an Olympics Skills Security plan to manage skill recruitment and retention.

 

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