Tech instrumental in small construction firms’ rebound

builders, construction industry

Australia’s construction industry is set to expand significantly as a result of a recovery in housing construction in early 2021, with investment in communications technology is seen as crucial in this growth.

The the latest Construction Industry Pulse report from Optus Business found that, despite the economic and resource challenges of 2020, confidence amongst construction business owners was rated “high”. The top three nominated areas for investment and growth in the next financial year were staff training, salary increases, and business technology. These investments would be made in support of strategy, personalised solutions, and the ongoing use of interactive documents.

The report noted that smaller construction firms – those with five to 19 employees – were most bullish about employing new staff, with 22 per cent reporting they would like to increase employee numbers. Additional priorities included employment of new and relevant skill sets (29 per cent), investment in dependable networks (23 per cent), training in new technology (23 per cent), and the ability to work from home (19 per cent).

With regards to interest in new technology, 50 per cent of respondents said that they would invest more in mobile phones, 47 per cent in laptops, 14 per cent in mobile broadband solutions, and 27 per cent in tablets. Accordingly, such interest in dependable networks came from their need to manage large data volumes securely and affordably. These investments would also be supported by applications and business solutions training for employees.

“These results clearly show the important role communications technology plays in underpinning Australia’s construction sector and its ability to rebound in 2021 and beyond,” Libby Roy, Managing Director of Optus Business, said. “Secure and reliable high bandwidth connections are absolutely essential in construction, not just for supporting day-to-day operations, but also for moving the massive data files that define construction processes, while also ensuring smooth work-from-home scenarios.

“It’s fantastic to see the emphasis on bringing in new skills and training workers in technology,” Roy added. “As the market for digitally skilled workers tightens, it is vital that construction companies build training programs that can deliver the pipeline of skills needed to ensure they can get the most out of their technology investments.”

Roy noted that Australian Government initiatives such as the $12.7 million expansion of the Digital Solutions – Australian Small Business Advisory Service Program (announced in the latest Federal Budget) would go a long way in helping the sector implement training programs.

This program, and others like it, are seen to be particularly important for smaller construction businesses, which were more likely to rely on a “bare minimum” technology approach (81 per cent), while 70 per cent of larger companies harnessed technology to improve their operations and updated it more often (71 per cent).