Construction: The Best Industry in Australia

What’s the best industry in Australia, and maybe the world? Is it information technology? is it retail? Is it the fashion industry? Or is it maybe artificial intelligence? or mining?

Well, It’s a pretty bold claim, but I believe that the best industry in Australia, and possibly the World is the Construction Industry, hands down! 

Why? It’s got a reputation for reliability, and durability, and it’s worth every cent you invest into it, and of course, you get to physically see the result of your labour and efforts every day during construction, and for a lifetime once the buildings are complete. Seasoned construction professionals will vouch for the industry’s many merits. Let’s take a closer look at some of those so you can make your own appraisal.

Construction: The Best Industry in Australia

Experience Trumps Qualifications

First up, the construction industry presents an even playing field for beginners, in the sense that you don’t need a degree to get your foot in the door – in fact – you don’t even have to have finished high school. 

Quite often, those interested in trades will leave school early and take up an apprenticeship. In just a few short years, the apprentice gets his or her trade before their peers have even finished their gap year. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there is no merit in education. It’s important to continue your education as your career grows, but that can take many forms, including online, part-time and on-the-job training with registered training organisations. Experience is everything in construction, but add education to that equation and you’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

So why does this pay off? Well in the construction industry, experience first and foremost often equals or even outweighs university degrees. It’s a hands-on industry where knowledge is gained on the job, getting in there and getting your hands dirty in the early days, we are building after all, and that’s not done inside a classroom. If a Cash Converters of Construction existed, the seasoned construction professionals among us could easily cash in their years of experience for a Master’s Degree or higher. 

When I was first learning the ropes in the industry, there was an old pro – we’ll call him Jack… Now Jack was considered one of the best onsite construction managers in town, and his services were in very high demand due to his decades of experience and industry knowledge. He was tasked with building some of our Capital’s highest towers and acted as a mentor and coach to a lot of aspiring young construction professionals with university degrees. And yet good old Jack had never set foot inside a university. Jack left school at the age of 14 and he took up the tools as a labourer and then through a combination of ambition and hard work, as well as taking on greater responsibility at each stage of his career, together with some seasoned mentors, he increased both his on the job knowledge, experience and progressed his career to become a fully-fledged construction manager for large scale construction projects.

And that raises another point in favour of the construction industry; this is not an industry in which you’ll max out your professional peak in your 30s. Experience improves with age. The more you have, the more profitable your construction career will be.

Construction: The Best Industry in Australia

Low Investment Start-Up

Another reason this industry is such a great industry is that you don’t need to have a million dollars in the bank to start a business. There are plenty of examples of highly successful construction moguls who started off small and made it big. 

An example of this in our own city is Canberra’s renowned Geocon, owned by Nick Georgalis. Only 20 years ago, Nick was building humble cottages. He’s now easily Canberra’s biggest developer, constructing thousands of units across several towers at any one time.

So with a bit of clever strategic planning and careful cash flow management in the early days – plus a healthy dose of calculated and tactical business risk – you can really make a name for yourself providing you have the skills and quality of work to back this up.

This is an industry that doesn’t discriminate when it comes to size. Let me explain: If you’re starting small, you have just as much opportunity to grab a piece of the pie as bigger construction contractors. Why? Well, construction is one of the few industries where the small fish can still outmanoeuvre the big. Smaller contractors have more mobility, but they also have more on the line – why? Because they’re out there in the trenches risking their kids’ inheritance and their reputations every day. They have more to lose and this also gives them more motivation to keep that reputation intact. And it’s also worth remembering that big business starts small.

Construction: The Best Industry in Australia

Get Noticed for Great Project Management

This leads to my next point: The construction industry rewards good, solid work. Because every project you put your name to is out there in the community for everyone to see – and it continues to be that way as time passes. Does your work stand the test of time? You’d want to hope so…. As far as I know, there’s only one leaning tower in history that’s ever been considered wonderous… But if it does stand the test of time, well isn’t that the best form of advertising a contractor could ask for? Better yet, if you’re known for not only quality work but also for getting your jobs done on time and within budget, and wrapping that up in a great customer experience, that’s the kind of gold standard reputation that just can’t be fabricated. 

And the opposite is equally true – in the construction game, there’s no hiding the evidence of poor workmanship. Word of dodgy jobs or projects that run over time significantly, or suffer huge budget blowouts will spread – in fact, if a contractor continually manages projects poorly, that kind of reputation will spread like wildfire. As Henry Ford once said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do”. What does that mean for us? It means that Contractors with good intentions make promises, but successful construction professionals, well they have the tools and the know-how to be able to keep their promises.

Construction: The Best Industry in Australia

Here to Stay

Construction is here to stay, through thick and thin. We’re talking about an industry that survived economic cycles, the great depression, the global economic crisis and more recently the Covid pandemic. In Australia, the construction industry was deemed ‘essential’ in the face of the economic fall-out of a global pandemic – but we already knew that. The government even acknowledged the importance of supporting the industry by offering grants designed to keep people on the tools and projects moving. 

It’s actually much simpler than this – the construction industry provides one of our most basic human needs – shelter, and that’ll never change. Granted, it couldn’t fabricate toilet paper in 2020 but I’m sure we were never more grateful for the roof under which we were forced to spend so much time during the on-again-off-again lockdowns. 

And how about this, a construction company can be started anywhere, but, it’s needed everywhere. And that means the opportunity is everywhere. And yet, thankfully, it’s an industry that can’t be outsourced or exported overseas. With the majority of projects taken on by contractors being relatively local, construction professionals can focus on local projects, which essentially have to be crafted and completed on-site, and are helping to keep many Australian businesses in business, and that’s exactly what we want.

So there you have it – my take on why the construction industry is the best industry in Australia.

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