HIA: Skilled tradespeople shortage hurting long-term building target
A pre-budget submission from the Housing Industry Association (HIA) has reported the Federal Government’s target of building 1.2 million homes over the next five years will fall “well short” if no solution is reached for Australia’s long-term shortage of skilled tradespeople.
In a call to the government, HIA managing director Jocelyn Martin says the association has asked that a multifaceted approach be taken up to bring more skilled tradespeople and other key workers to the industry.
“Too often, doing a trade or going into construction is seen as a lesser career option and we are calling on the federal government to instigate a widespread education program to better promote the substantive career opportunities that exist in the building industry,” Jocelyn says.
“HIA would like the Government to make a clear long-term commitment to indexed apprentices and employer subsidies to encourage more employers to take on apprentices and to support them through their apprenticeships.”
Jocelyn says that the HIA understands challenges brought by a lack of skilled labour won’t be solved overnight but declared more apprenticeship support and encouraging the employment of apprentices could be taken to help ease the skills shortage.
“To incentivise apprentices to continue with their training, a ‘tool bonus’ or ‘tool rewards program could be introduced consisting of a $1,000 tool bonus starter kit and a $500 supplement per year. This would help build up their tool kits and reward for year-on-year milestones through their apprenticeship,” she says.
Along with policies to help draw apprentices, refinement to the immigration system also needs to be implemented to restore the fading supply of skilled workers, according to Jocelyn. This would involve developing a streamlined and simplified visa program for in-demand trades and supporting this with an education and awareness program to assist participants in navigating the process.
Other areas HIA has identified for a lack of skills include over-regulation placed on building businesses as well as economic uncertainty, leading to HIA seeking support and dedicated funding that would enable the upskilling of businesses and their workers on major reforms and provide support for regulatory change and business education.
“A strong construction workforce is the only way that Australia will ever solve the problem of housing affordability. If the Federal Government is to realise its bold goal of 1.2 million much-needed homes in five years, HIA strongly recommends the Government adopt the recommendations contained in the submission,” Jocelyn says.