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Harnessing skilled migrant workforce crucial to address tradie shortage, says Master Builders Australia


Master Builders Australia has called for measures to help skilled migrants already in the country navigate complex barriers to working in the building and construction industry, as part of its supplementary Budget submission released on Monday.

The organisation’s CEO, Denita Wawn, said that the industry needs to attract 90,000 tradies in the next 90 days to meet the demand for building 1.2 million homes over the next five years, and that skilled migration is a vital piece of the workforce puzzle.

“The domestic workforce cannot keep up with demand in the short term,” Ms Wawn said. “Skilled migration represents a vital piece of the workforce puzzle.”

While workers born overseas make up about 24 per cent of the industry’s total workforce, those who arrived within the last five years only represent 2.8 per cent.

Ms Wawn noted that there are skilled migrants already in Australia who are working in roles below or unrelated to their qualifications or work experience in their home country, and that for many, it is simply too hard to have their professional capacity recognised to work in a trade in Australia.

The Parkinson Migration Review found that skills assessments or qualifications recognition could cost nearly $10,000 and take up to 18 months.

“Master Builders believes more support is needed and the Federal Budget provides an opportunity to get the ball rolling,” Ms Wawn said.


The organisation’s recommendations include providing access to English language education, coaching on how to find a job in the industry, subsidising the cost of upskilling or training, allowing migrant workers to access financial subsidies to complete trade apprenticeships, streamlining occupational licensing requirements, ensuring clear pathways to permanent residency, and expanding eligibility for the graduate visa and graduate visa extension to all Australian Qualifications Framework Certificate III and above qualifications.

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