Director’s News April 2024

Greg Durkin.jpg

Greg Durkin, BCITO Director.

The construction sector is certainly going through interesting times at present. I am hearing and seeing a range of opinions from employers, learners, and stakeholders about business confidence and the amount of work in the pipeline.

For example, recent data from Pacifecon shows 1,772 projects started in February, with a total value of $3,203m. In January, there was a 15% increase in projects and a slight decrease in February (4%). Building consents for February are up by 3.5% (2,795 dwellings consented for the month).

Balanced against this, the economy has retracted for another quarter meaning we are officially going backwards (recession), with the cost of living being a real challenge for many people. Within this mixed bag of opportunities and challenges, I am proud of the work BCITO is doing to promote career/training opportunities in your industry.

Industry & Training

The decline of construction industry activity over the last 12 months continues to place pressure on businesses operating across the 16 industries that BCITO supports. While the total volume of new building consents has decreased by 27%, recent commentary from Infometrics suggests the decline in both residential and commercial building activity has started to level out (see images below).

Non residential consents_.png

In terms of training activity, BCITO is seeing a flattening out of the decline in training numbers, with Area teams reporting strong interest in new apprentice sign-ups. 50% of teams have achieved their quarterly sales targets for the three-month period and the remainder are very close to that level. Offering a learner fee discount for the new sign-ups has created a real buzz across the industry.

At the other end of the apprentice pipeline, the number of completions remains strong, which reflects the large cohorts of learners enrolled from 2019 to 2021 (with typical completion period being 3 to 4 years).

Reducing the rate of learner withdrawals prior to completion remains a key focus area for BCITO. We are currently undertaking research into the reasons behind learners withdrawing from apprenticeships. Based on analysis of government data and in-depth interviews, the research has already highlighted the cost of living, uncertainty of employment, and workplace conditions as reasons for stopping training. While these findings are early results, we have responded by offering more support for learners facing personal and employment challenges.

Greg Durkin, BCITO Director.