Emerging issues and market trends

Talent strain

A major focus of State and Federal Governments’ economic response to COVID-19 is to stimulate the economy and job creation through transport and infrastructure spending.

This creates a number of opportunities for Downer. But it will also stretch a limited labour pool that is already being affected by border closures and travel restrictions.

This will only escalate the so-called ‘war for talent’. This issue is further compounded by the fact school and tertiary education sectors continue to see limited interest in STEM subjects.

Downer recognises we need to keep addressing this trend through supporting schools and tertiary education providers to ensure potential talent see these sectors as legitimate and attractive career choices. Our workforce development and recruitment teams continue to attend careers fairs and expos to promote the opportunities Downer can provide in these sectors.

Downer relies heavily on technical skills-based tradespeople and all disciplines of engineering, project management, commercial and risk management.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to restrict access to labour across borders and internationally, we need to look internally to upskill and reskill our workforce to meet this constant need. We also need to be actively recruiting to seek interest from the right people with the required skills in anticipation of the mobilisation of projects and contracts. This will require an increase in collaboration between Recruitment teams and our Bid and Operational teams to forecast need and develop plans to build a capable workforce using external and internal channels.

The ongoing impacts of COVID-19

While COVID-19 vaccination plans are well underway, the virus remains a real threat. We need to continue to be agile in how we respond to this threat.

Downer will continue to develop work practices that support flexible working arrangements to help meet not only COVID-19 restrictions, but also employee expectations.

The nature of the services Downer delivers does not always make this possible or feasible. However, we continue to look for opportunities to support flexible working arrangements while continuing to deliver our services and maintain productivity levels.

Downer has made significant investment in technology, equipment and systems over the past 18 months to help support a more flexible and agile workforce. This includes streamlining meeting platforms, improving remote access to Downer’s internal networks and files, and bolstering our cybersecurity processes. We have also provided training to our workforce on how to maximise these systems for effective communication and meetings.