As a HIA member, you would be all too aware of the skills shortages that have plagued the industry for several decades. According to the Australian Government’s most recent Construction Trades report1, eight of the nine construction trade occupations assessed in 2018 were found to be in national shortage. These included carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, cabinetmakers, plasterers, stonemasons, glaziers and tilers. The only sufficiently resourced category was painters.
‘I’ve been in the industry for 27-odd years now and when I started back in 1993…there was always a conversation around putting more apprentices on, working young kids through the industry, and an ageing workforce – and those issues are still in existence today,’ says John Doulgeridis, Managing Director of Carlisle Homes.
A lack of suitably qualified trades compromises onsite efficiencies, productivity and ultimately the profitability of Australian building businesses. At a broader level, it impedes the industry’s ability to meet the demand for housing and contributes to increased end-costs for the consumer.
As an industry, we know that the best way to tackle skills shortages is to attract and retain a steady flow of apprentices. However, because hiring apprentices can be costly – in terms of time, dollars and administrative load – trades can be reluctant to take them on. But if today’s most talented and knowledgeable industry professionals aren’t able or willing to train our future workforce, who will?
Two of Australia’s leading volume builders – Carlisle Homes and Henley, both based in Melbourne – have found success in supporting their subcontractors to take on apprentices through the HIA Builder Program. As well as helping to strengthen the industry, their businesses are also reaping rewards from this investment.