News & Views

11th July 2017

Market Monitor 2016-17

11 Jul 2017

This study – which is conducted every two years, covers a wide range of issues the industry is facing from general sentiment and business confidence, the purchase process – including decision making, ordering and the channels and methods used to purchase materials, through to feedback on the major wholesalers and manufacturers.  The study was open from December 2016 to April 2017 and we had over 900 responses – with a stronger representation from small business, with more owner/independents answering than in past years.  

Nature of the work

Overall, we saw that residential and commercial projects provide the mainstay of work for most businesses, regardless of size.  Small players are getting much of their revenue through residential work, whereas commercial work is more prominent for larger companies.  A great deal of revenue comes from maintenance and renovation projects, regardless of business size. 

Optimism has improved

Businesses are more optimistic about the future, with nearly half believing there are increased opportunities for work in the coming years.  While contractors in NSW are the most positive, in Western Australia our electrical contractors feel the most concerned about the future.  Labour costs and overheads continue to rise.

Competition for work is high

Despite the optimism, electrical contractors see general economic conditions and increased competition for work as likely business impacts over the next two years.  This is a change from the last survey, where concerns mainly related to internally managing their business (controlling costs and cash flow).  Red tape and legislative changes are also a worry for electrical contractors, as well as a perceived rise in unlicensed/unskilled workers undercutting them on price.

Take it digital

While relationships are still central to how business is done, younger electrical contractors expect better digital connectivity from their business partners.   As in other industries, being able to conduct business online is increasingly important and prevalent.  From research and ordering to training and product information dissemination, there is a keen need for wholesalers and manufacturers to use digital to better meet their customers’ needs. 

Compliance is on the radar

Contractors are much more aware now than in 2015 of the importance of using products that are compliant to Australian standards.  Three-quarters of respondents rated it as very important when choosing a product to use.    However, contractors take cues from either compliance markings (52%), or trust that if it is being sold in an Australian wholesaler or is a leading brand (44%), it will be compliant.  Only 20% conduct further research to ensure the product is compliant.  A compliance mark on products would help contractors navigate product choices in this regard.  Contractors believe non-compliant products to be of a different quality, and understand the consequences of using non-compliant products to be a liability (51%) and risk (44%). 

Renewables and the SMART revolution

Batteries and solar are predicted to be the big emerging technology, closely followed by the internet of things/smart technology, going into the near future.  In this study, more businesses were working and specialising in automation and as a result there is a desire for more skilled employees and support in learning and training in this space.  

“There are some interesting trends emerging from this year’s research and we are particularly pleased to see the awareness level of the issues around only using “compliant products” so high on the agenda of electrical contractors,” says Suresh Manickam, National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) CEO.  “And none of this would be possible without the support of our sponsors. So a special thank-you to L&H, Rexel, MMEM and CNW, and Philips, 3M, HPMLegrand, Gerard Lighting and Hager.” 


Media enquiries and interviews

Barry Jackson – National Marketing and Communications
D 02 9962 6904
M 0457 767 328

Notes for editors

  1. NECA is the peak industry body representing the interests of electrical and communications contractors Australia-wide.
  2. NECA is run by electrical contractors, for electrical contractors.
  3. We have 5,000 contracting companies as members – and they in turn employ over 100,000 people Australia-wide.
  4. NECA employs almost 350 people across its seven chapters (Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia).
  5. The chapters provide NECA members with a range of services including: Industrial Relations, Health & Safety, Legal, Technical, Training, business-support services, product discounts and advocacy representation in Canberra with Government, Industry bodies and Training bodies.
  6. NECA wholly-owns its Legal firm, Group Training and the NECA Colleges (in WA) and EcoSmart Electricians – and has joint ventures with a superannuation company (NSW) and one of the national cabling registrars (ACRS).
  7. NECA also employ around 2,000 apprentice electricians and provides training to a further 2,000.
  8. For further information go to


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