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Cutting apprentice incentives will worsen housing supply and labour shortages, HIA warns


The Housing Industry Association (HIA) has called on the Australian Government to maintain incentives for tradespeople employing and retaining apprentices, warning that cuts to these incentives could exacerbate housing supply issues and labour shortages in the construction industry.

HIA Managing Director, Jocelyn Martin, said, “At a time when builders are facing so much adversity, it is imperative that the Australian Government maintain incentives for tradespeople employing and retaining apprentices.”

Martin acknowledged that the government has committed to a strategic review of the Australian Apprenticeship Incentive System, which will consider funding arrangements. However, with submissions to the Review not due until May and a likely period of consultation to follow, employers will be left in limbo as the current funding arrangements are set to cease on 30 June 2024.

“Cutting back crucial funding to employers that encourage them to take on apprentices will not only cause a reduction in opportunities for aspiring tradespeople, it will also mean Australia’s dwindling construction labour force will get smaller,” Martin warned.

Labour shortages are currently one of the top issues facing the building industry in Australia, and Martin stressed that no stone should be left unturned to increase workforce capacity and improve skills shortages if the goal of building 1.2 million homes is to be reached.

She emphasized that financial incentives that encourage the employment of an apprentice and improve retention have proved invaluable in helping the construction industry access more workers. Additionally, apprentice incentive funding opens up opportunities for those seeking a diverse and rewarding career in construction.

“At a time when it is critical to avoid anything which will impact the ability to supply homes, HIA is encouraging the Australian Government to maintain the current national funding arrangements for apprentices and employers by a further 12 months while the Review is conducted,” Martin concluded.

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