Critical Skilled Worker Shortages and What this Means for the Construction Industry in Australia

Posted by Tristan Angelini on 17 September 2021

Skilled workers have always had an enormous impact on the economic growth of Australia to the point that it’s become even more attractive to non-Australians to look for work in the country. But for the past few years, getting a skilled migration visa in Australia has become more challenging causing a shortage in the number of skilled workers. In the construction industry, this shortage can be felt and the effect is staggering.

During the recession that took place from 2007- 2011, 2 million construction workers lost their jobs and it was the biggest loss that the industry experienced. Since then, the industry has not fully recovered from the loss and has struggled with finding skilled workers to fulfill many jobs readily available. Migrant workers have always been welcomed with open arms, but meeting the criteria is a different story.

Master Builders Victoria released a report in 2019 about the shortages in construction trades by state. In Victoria, the reports showed that shortages can be seen in most trades.

What impact does this have on the industry as a whole?

Here are three ways.

Hesitations to Join the Industry

Because of all the layoffs due that happened, which caused so many to lose their jobs in the industry including those who have been doing it for a very long time, many are now hesitating to even try joining. According to studies, younger people are growing scared of even considering construction as a career path because of the volatility of job security years ago. The Federal Government announced last year about the wage subsidy for apprentices to learn the ropes in the building and construction industry and find employment later on. This was done to fill in positions for available jobs in the industry.

Rising Costs

Because of the shortage of skilled workers, developers and contractors have to face increased construction costs to finish projects on time. To stay competitive and find the most qualified workers, more funds are needed. At the same time, to encouraged skilled workers to fill those jobs, an increase in base compensations has also been made.

Safety Concerns

One of the biggest risks in finding less than qualified workers has a lot to do with safety issues which shouldn’t be such a surprise because projects in the construction industry pose such a threat to safety especially to high-stakes jobs like building and construction. One wrong move could have a devastating effect that is not only short-term but long-term.

So how will this problem be solved?

Encourage Young People

The population isn’t exactly the problem when we’re talking about the shortage, it’s the number of people who are wanting to join the industry. One of the best ways to solve the critical skilled worker shortage is to make the career fascinating enough for young people to get involved. Experts believe that in order to do this, construction firms must partner up with local schools to encourage them to make this a career path. Career events and school visits would really help promote the industry.

This would also help in boosting their confidence about these opportunities and the availability of jobs. That they can be rest assured that they will not suffer the same fate as the ones in the past.

Start Training Programs

Training programs will enable younger people to see what it’s like to work in the industry, which is why apprenticeship programs are necessary. The Federal Government started this last year, and it should continue. To be able to create a highly skilled workforce, training employees and future ones need to get as much training as they could. In addition to the skills training, Occupational Safety and Health Administration must be utilized as well to improve on-site safety and protection.

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