30/01/2009 - 12:00

Availability of skilled WA workers rise

30/01/2009 - 12:00

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

The shortage of skilled tradespeople and contractor prices in the housing sector has eased in Western Australia, according to a key industry survey.

The shortage of skilled tradespeople and contractor prices in the housing sector has eased in Western Australia, according to a key industry survey.

The Housing Industry Association-Austral Trade Bricks Report found that regional WA was one of a handful of places to record a decline in the trade contractor price index, falling from the previous quarter's 150.1 to 149.9 points during the December quarter.

However prices in Perth rose 1.9 per cent quarter-on-quarter from 153.9 to 156.8 points.

Across the nation, trade contractor price index fell for the first time in the report's six-year history, dipping 0.4 per cent from 135.7 to 135.2 points.

Meantime, the shortage of skilled tradespeople eased in both Perth and regional WA during the quarter.

In Perth, the index moved up from -0.28 to -0.02 while in regional WA it eased from -0.30 to -0.28.

Nationally, the index moved up from -0.29 to -0.06.

HIA chief executive Chris Lamont said the increased availability of skilled workers was due mainly to a fall in house building activity.

Mr Lamont said the increase in availability was not indicative of more skilled labour coming on the market as there was still a shortage of trained staff in most trades.

"The downturn in economic activity has in the short term improved trade availability, but a drop in housing starts of between 10 and 15 per cent is not an appropriate cure for trade shortages," Mr Lamont said.

"When construction activity bounces back, we will be left with a further deterioration in the availability of skilled tradespeople."

Mr Lamont said the housing industry was feeling the effect of higher interest rates from earlier last year before monetary conditions eased.

"The wheels really fell off around June and July last year," Mr Lamont said.

"Less than 12 months ago we were increasing interest rates."

Federal and state governments need to boost funding in trades training, so there would be enough skilled workers when the economy recovers, Mr Lamont said.

"When economic conditions improve and building activity rises, severe skills shortages will return," Mr Lamont said.

"We all know our labour force is getting older and an investment now will ensure we don't face the same capacity constraints we saw in recent years."

More investment from either federal or state governments was needed so more of the 25,000 plus dwelling approves but not yet started are canned due to a lack of funds.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options