15/07/2010 - 00:00

Skills shortage may affect housing supply

15/07/2010 - 00:00

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

THE Housing Industry Association has warned a looming construction skills shortage has the potential to exacerbate housing supply issues in Western Australia.

Skills shortage may affect housing supply

THE Housing Industry Association has warned a looming construction skills shortage has the potential to exacerbate housing supply issues in Western Australia.

HIA managing director Shane Goodwin told an industry function earlier this month that the construction industry was faced with an ageing workforce and needed more workers trained to meet underlying housing demand.

Currently the highest proportion of the construction workforce is aged 35-44, and in some trades the age distribution is skewed toward older age brackets; for example, the average age of a bricklayer is 49.

According to Mr Goodwin, the ageing construction workforce is a symptom of the low rate of new entrants to the industry and training growth is lagging well behind growth in building activity.

Brookfield Multiplex director of construction and development, Chris Palandri, said workforce development was one of the biggest challenges constraining the construction industry.

“In WA there is the great pull to the north-west,” Mr Palandri said.

“There is no issue with a shortage of plasterboard fixers [in the north-west] because its not a trade that’s used, but electricians, infrastructure people, formworkers and the like have a pull in both directions, so that would be our biggest challenge.”

Last week, Training and Workforce Development Minister Peter Collier unveiled a priority occupation list to guide planning and preparation for industry skill needs.

The state government is also developing a migration plan, which will include a skilled migration occupation list that identifies jobs recommended for general migration into WA.

ABN Group chief executive, Dale Alcock, said there needed to be wholesale changes to immigration laws to allow large builders to sponsor and guarantee work for imported tradespeople.

“As major builders, we engage subcontractors, we don’t directly employ bricklayers, for example; but we cannot as a major builder sponsor trades coming in on a short-term visa, which is pretty ridiculous if we have got the work,” Mr Alcock said. “In my opinion we should be able to operate as a sponsoring employer, and then provide a guarantee of work, and if that’s placing that visa holder with one brickie and then moving them to another, we should be able to manage that process.

“Whereas what you’re getting at the moment under the current migration status is for those visas, a bricklaying team or a bricklaying subcontractor could operate as a sponsoring employer, but you’re not going to get too many brickie teams going and applying for an overseas visa worker.

“We could actually undertake that process because we’re doing it in volume.”

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options