{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Housing industry insights Economics Data & forecasts Tailored research and analysis Advocacy & policy Advocacy Policy priorities Position statements Submissions News and inspiration Industry news Member alerts Media releases HOUSING Online
Business support
Business support $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Become an apprentice host Hire an apprentice Why host a HIA apprentice? Apprentice partner program Builder & manufacturer program Industry insurance Construction legal expenses insurance Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies & tool insurance Planning & safety solutions Building & planning services How can safety solutions help you? Independent site inspections Solutions for your business Contracts Online HIA Tradepass HIA SafeScan Advertise jobs Trusted support & guidance Contracts & compliance support Professional services Industrial relations Member savings Toyota vehicles The Good Guys Commercial Fuel savings See all
Resources & advice
Resources & advice $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Building it right Building codes Australian standards Getting it right on site See all Building materials & products Concrete, bricks & walls Getting products approved Use the right products for the job See all Managing your business Dealing with contracts Handling disputes Managing your employees See all Managing your safety Falls from heights Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects COVID-19 Getting approval to build Sustainable homes See all
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer Frequently asked questions Study with us Find a course to suit you Qualification courses Learning on demand A job in the industry Get your builder's licence Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Find jobs
HIA community
HIA community $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Join HIA Sign me up How do I become a member? What's in it for me? Mates rates Get involved Become an award judge Join a committee Partner with us Our initiatives HIA Building Women GreenSmart Kitchen, bathroom and design hub Get to know us Our members Our people Our partners Support for you Charitable Foundation Mental health program
Awards & events
Awards & events $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Awards program People & Business Awards GreenSmart Australian Housing Awards Awards winners Regional Award winners Australian Housing Award winners 2024 Australian Home of the Year Enter online Industry events Events in the next month Economic outlook National Conference Events calendar
HIA products
HIA products $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Shop @ HIA Digital Australian Standards Contracts Online Shipping & delivery Purchasing T&Cs See all Products Purchase NCC 2022 Building codes & standards Economic reports Hard copy contracts Guides & manuals
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Change location
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.successMessage}} {{region}} Change location

$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Access to skilled labour a barrier to 1.2 million new homes

Media release

Access to skilled labour a barrier to 1.2 million new homes

Media release
“The influx of overseas migrants into Australia in the last couple of years has added significant demand for new homes. Despite this, skilled trades in the residential sector are not recognised on the Australian government’s Skills Priority List,” stated HIA Senior Economist Tom Devitt.

The HIA Trades Report released today provides a quarterly review of the availability of skilled trades and any demand pressures on trades operating in the residential building industry.

“Australia’s acute shortage of skilled trades remains despite the slowing in building activity,” added Mr Devitt.

“The HIA Trades Availability Index sat at -0.58 in the first quarter of 2024, moderating from -0.64 at the end of last year. This is the least acute shortage of skilled trades across the country in almost three years, consistent with the slowing in building activity” added Mr Devitt.

“While this is a welcome improvement, it is still among the most acute shortages of skilled tradespeople in Australia since HIA first published this report in 2003.

“Even with home building pipelines shrinking rapidly under the weight of the RBA’s rate hikes, public infrastructure projects have been absorbing a lot of skilled trades, as have mining and other non-residential projects.

“As a consequence, improvement in trades availability stalled for much of last year and the prices of these trades are continuing to rise much faster than usual. 

“Trades prices increased by 6.2 per cent in the 12 months to March 2024 compared to an annual average rate of just 2.0 per cent before the pandemic,” noted Mr Devitt.

This point is also made in Wednesday CPI data released by the ABS: “Higher labour and material costs contributed to price rises this quarter for construction of new dwellings,” stated the ABS.

“Increasing the pool of skilled labour is essential if Australia is to build 1.2 million homes over the next five years. This will require two key policy actions from government,” continued Mr Devitt.

“The first is to maintain assistance from the Australian government for those employers that train apprentices and directly for apprentices. Financial incentives which encourage the employment of an apprentice and improve retention have proved invaluable to helping the construction industry to access more workers. In addition, apprentice incentive funding opens up opportunities for those who seek a diverse and rewarding career in construction.

“The second is to allow the building industry to access skilled labour from overseas in order to respond to the boom-and-bust cycles caused by government policy settings. 

“It is welcome to hear that the Australian government will be streamlining visas for in-demand jobs. Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, the government may be excluding a number of trades crucial to the home building industry.

“There is uncertainty around the possible exclusion of important home building trades, including bricklayers, carpenters, ceramic tilers, plasterers, joiners, concreters, roofers, painters, landscapers and plumbers.

“The ability to access skilled trades at times when building activity increases can assist in easing the acute shortage of housing,” concluded Mr Devitt.

By region, quarterly readings can be volatile. Taking an average over the last six months, the most acute shortages of skilled tradespeople were in regional WA (-0.97) and regional SA (-0.95), followed by Adelaide (-0.85), Perth (-0.83), Brisbane (-0.69), regional Queensland (-0.63), regional Victoria (-0.59), regional NSW (-0.58) and Melbourne (-0.58). Sydney had the most modest trades shortage, at -0.51.

By trade, the most acute shortages in the first quarter of 2024 existed in bricklaying (-1.00), followed by ceramic tiling (-0.85), plastering (-0.74), carpentry (-0.74) and roofing (-0.70).

HIA Trade Availability Index

Source: HIA Trades Report

For more information please contact:

Thomas Devitt

HIA Senior Economist

Tim Reardon

HIA Chief Economist
Latest articles
View all news $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
24 May
Boosting apprentice numbers must be the key focus of review

“The number of new apprentices entering the building industry will not be sufficient to fill the labour supply gap that will prevent the industry reaching the Housing Accord’s target of building 1.2 million new homes over the next five years,” HIA Executive Director, Future Workforce, Geordan Murray said today.

24 May
Are you interested in doing Government funded building work?

You may be aware that the Federal Government has committed to building 1.2 million homes over the next 5 years. To support this commitment, the Federal Government, through Housing Australia, is funding residential building work.

24 May
Jurisdiction of the Federal Safety Commissioner

Are your interested in tendering for federally funded government building work? Use HIA’s flowchart to help you determine if you are required to comply with the Federal Work Health and Safety accreditation scheme.

23 May
Home building hotspots in North Queensland revealed

“There were five areas in North Queensland that were identified as home building and population hotspots,” stated HIA Executive Director - North Queensland, Peter Fry.