Builder Industry Trends: How Is the Industry Moving During COVID-19?
The building and construction industry in Australia hasn’t been at its strongest for several years now. Then, in 2020, its downturn was for a while exacerbated by the world-altering onset of COVID-19. Still, building and construction remains an essential sector in all parts of the country and accounts for around 9% of Gross Domestic Product or GDP.
The good news is, it looks as though things are starting to pick up. As we learn to live in a post-pandemic world, the industry is proving its durability. Everything from employment to innovation is being pushed to the forefront and the sector is doing better because of it. Read on for some of the biggest building industry trends helping to rejuvenate this struggling sector.
The Fallout From the First Peak
When COVID-19 first hit, so much of the world was ground to halt. This meant that works being carried out in Australia were hit with severe delays. In part, this had to do with the restrictions imposed on workplaces to keep them safe. Social distancing measures were enforced, for example, which meant that fewer workers could be on-site at any one time.
However, the delays to construction projects were also due to product shortages. Supply chains were disrupted as commercial workforces across the globe were locked down. So, any items imported from China and other nations were suddenly severely delayed. And, not only that but the price of anything that could be ordered skyrocketed.
In addition, full-time workers and apprentices alike lost jobs as their employers struggled to stay afloat. Scheduled projects also had to be postponed or cancelled entirely, all while the prospect of booking new projects became unfeasible. All in all, then, an awful lot of blows were dealt to the construction industry. This led to Australia’s lowest level of construction activity on record.
Expectations for 2021
The good news is that, by the time the worst of the first wave was over, construction had already begun to improve. In fact, for the first time since 2018, the building industry started expanding. And, while the industry’s outlook has fluctuated since, 2021 is still expected to be a positive year.
By the end of this year, experts anticipate that the Australian construction industry will grow by 2.6%. Following such immense decline at the start of 2020, this is certainly something to be celebrated.
3 Building and Construction Industry Trends Post-COVID
There are good reasons for such marked improvement. They come in the form of building and construction industry trends that are expected to carry on into the future. From more hands-on government support to a renewed focus on eco-friendly innovation, here are the three trends you can thank for building the industry back up.
Across the world, governments had to pull out all the stops to keep their countries’ economies afloat. This often took the form of stimulus packages for struggling industries. As such, in Australia, providing financial support for construction became a top priority.
Several government-backed grants became crucial to the survival of construction companies of all sizes. These included:
- COVID-19 small business grants.
- COVID-19 financial support for employers.
- The Indigenous Business Relief Package.
- The HomeBuilders Grant.
- The JobSeekers Grant.
The HomeBuilders Grant in particular has been immensely beneficial for the residential building sector. Meanwhile, small business and employer grants have allowed for an upturn in commercial building industry trends. However, every grant has played a necessary role. As we continue to deal with restrictions, it is hoped they will help to prevent further decline during future waves.
It was arguably the JobSeekers Grant that made the biggest difference to the most people. With at least 82,000 job losses estimated in the construction industry up to August 2020, this grant became the salvation of many whose livelihoods were on the line. However, that’s not the only thing that has aided employment recovery in Australian construction.
In some states, there have been big pushes towards improving access to training programs. In South Australia, for example, a record $26 million was pledged in the Construction Industry Training Board’s 2021 budget. With a broader and more skilled workforce, the sector can grow quickly and adapt better.
There has also been a shift in focus in the construction industry. Having been forced to be more forward-thinking than ever before, the sector is beginning to adopt more eco-friendly methods. The introduction of dry fixed roofing has been a notable change. As a well-established approach to installing roofs across Europe, it seems Australia is finally catching up.
You see, there’s no need for traditional wet mortar when installing a dry fixed roof. This is good news considering concrete is one of the world’s biggest polluters. And, because the roofs themselves include a natural ventilation system, they help to reduce homeowners’ energy consumption.
Other environmentally friendly approaches include the wider use of solar panels and sustainable building materials such as recycled steel and bamboo. Altogether, they serve to make the services of builders more desirable. In a society that is increasingly aware of its carbon footprint, an eco-friendly approach should help to keep more builders in business.
The Future of the Building and Construction Industry
It’s hard to say exactly what the future holds for construction or, indeed, any other industry. However, as Australia continues to navigate the challenges of COVID-19, several building industry trends suggest a sustainable survival strategy.
With government-backed financial support, improved training initiatives, and a new focus on environmentalism, the sector stands a chance of strengthening. During such a difficult time, to not only survive but thrive is something to be commended. Hopefully, as we edge closer to the end of 2021, the growth the industry has enjoyed recently can continue apace.