The building and construction industry plays a crucial role in the economy as the third largest employer of Australians, creating more than a million jobs and training around 50,000 apprentices each year

To meet current projected demand, we need an additional 300,000 employees, apprentices and independent contractors over the next decade and 50,000 new entrants each year over the next ten years, and to offset the increasing number of workers entering retirement.

What are the problems?

Unless this demand is met, we will suffer a crippling skills shortfall, and even greater housing affordability pressures, as has happened in the past.

Australia’s future productivity and competitiveness depend on a highly skilled and trained workforce. The national vocational and educational training system has not kept up pace with the changes in work practices in the construction industry. There is a need for both qualifications and skill sets to enable industry to recognise the skills of its workforce.

Employers have reported that apprentice quality is the number one issue impacting on their businesses. Master Builders believes in training young Australians first. The building industry is proud to train more apprentices each year than any other industry. cHowever, the industry also relies on the immigration system to help meet skills shortages, particularly in remote areas or for jobs requiring specialised technical expertise.

Skilled migrants play an important role in meeting immediate and longer term skills shortages and in enhancing innovation through knowledge transfer.

Reasonable access to temporary skilled migrants on 457 visas is important to meeting urgent demand for specific skill sets not immediately available in the broader Australian workforce.

How can we fix them?

  • Targeted measures to assist and encourage employers to take on even more apprentices and to increase the completion rates for building trade apprenticeships, including the return of, and increases to, previously available incentive programmes.
  • Targeted pre-apprenticeship programmes that support site-ready and productive apprentices to boost business productivity and improve safety in the workplace.
  • Significantly boost financial assistance to building and construction industry employers who invest in the training and mentoring of young people while completing their apprenticeships.
  • Greater support for industry led programmes to increase female participation in the labour market.
  • Improved investment in Vocational Education and Training (VET) so young people can access publicly funded industry-focused training when they leave school.
  • Review the national VET training system to remove current complexities, increase business and parent understanding, and implement consistent funding models.
  • Provide industry with a greater role in determining quality training outcomes from Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) by allowing industry to provide feedback on their performance to consumers.
  • Better support for mentoring programmes that are proven to increase apprentice completions.
  • More support for partnership programmes between VET and universities to develop and promote new strategies aimed at developing the next generation of highly skilled and innovative construction professionals by increasing the number of apprentices who go to attain degrees in engineering and construction management.
  • Setting the permanent net migration intake at around 240,000 persons per annum to reflect increasing skill demands in a growing number of industry sectors.
  • Ensure the 457 program remains uncapped with easy to navigate transitions to a permanent visa for those eligible and necessary protections against exploitation.
  • Reducing the visa sponsorship period for employer-nominated visas from three to two years, to help employers engaged in the construction of large projects.
  • Review the ‘highly skilled’ threshold within employer- nominated visa classes to reduce ongoing skills shortages in ‘middle and semi-skilled’ occupations and resulting project bottlenecks.

Submissions and Video:  

Towards 2020, A Policy For Apprenticeship Reform