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HIA flags ideas for attracting skilled tradies

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) has released its 2024–25 pre-budget submission to the Treasury, focusing on how to address Australia’s construction skills shortage

In order for Australia to meet the federal government’s target of building 1.2 million homes over the next five year, more needs to be done to attract skilled construction workers to Australia as well as support school leavers entering trade apprenticeships, HIA says in its pre-budget statement.

“Skill shortages are faced across all facets of the residential building industry,” HIA says.

“The shortage of skills extends into manufacturing and supply of building products like glass, plasterboard, brick making and delivery drivers.

“An ageing workforce and increased complexities and conditions of running and operating a profitable business, are also motivating more people to exit the industry year on year.

“To achieve a level of new housing supply that puts sustained downward pressure on housing costs we must boost the capacity of the construction labour force.”

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In its statement, HIA highlights a range of ways to attract and retain construction workers, including:

  • a promotion campaign to highlight career opportunities
  • providing apprentices with a $1,000 tool starter kit and a $500 supplement per year of the apprenticeship
  • simplifying the visa process for in-demand skills and developing a specific construction trade contractor visa
  • funding the development of a small business compliance, cash flow management and risk mitigation program
  • providing funding for upskilling of current workers in the industry
  • provide funding for apprenticeships and cadetships in the industry
  • provide a wage subsidy to those looking for a career change into the residential building industry to bridge wage shortfalls for older workers.

“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,” HIA managing director Jocelyn Martin says.

“HIA would like the government to make a clear long-term commitment to indexed apprentice and employer subsidies to encourage more employers to take on apprentices and to support them through their apprenticeships.

“Our industry is keen to innovate and improve sustainable practices but to date this has resulted in more and more regulation being placed on building businesses. In addition, economic uncertainty leads to greater business risk for builders.

“We are therefore seeking support and dedicated funding to enable businesses to upskill themselves and their workers on major reforms, support for regulatory change and business education.”

The Housing Industry Association (HIA’s) 2024-2025 Pre-Budget Submission can be downloaded here.

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