The Federal Government’s ambitious plan to construct 1.2 million new homes over the next five years could be seriously hindered by Australia’s severe shortage of skilled tradespeople. According to Jocelyn Martin, Managing Director of the Housing Industry Association (HIA), without addressing this persistent deficit, the nation’s housing goals will remain out of reach. “HIA has lodged its pre-budget submission outlining key initiatives that could be taken by the Federal Government to ease the problems in the building industry caused by severe lack of tradespeople in the country,” she stated.
Martin emphasised the acute necessity for a diverse strategy aimed at attracting more skilled workers into the industry. The HIA’s proposals include improved financial incentives for apprentices and reforms to the immigration system to attract internationally trained tradespersons. “This would help build up their tool kits and reward for year on year milestones through their apprenticeship,” Martin asserted regarding the ‘tool bonus’ or ‘tool rewards program’—a proposed incentive for apprentices.
Furthermore, the HIA calls upon the government to shift the public perception of trade careers through an extensive education program, highlighting the substantial opportunities within the building industry. “It’s also about improving the way we build – building better, more sustainable, more energy-efficient homes,” Martin added, underscoring the drive towards innovation and the industry’s commitment to sustainable practices.
While acknowledging the multifaceted nature of the skill shortage, Martin’s message was clear: “A strong construction workforce is the only way that Australia will ever solve the problem of housing affordability.” If the Federal Government hopes to achieve its construction goals, the planned housing boom will depend heavily on the adoption of the HIA’s recommendations.