Construction Delays Continue
Australia is in the midst of its biggest tradie shortage in decades, with prices and demand adding further pressure to the construction industry.
The worker shortage is at the worst level since the industry records started, with the most acute scarcities in bricklaying, carpentry, and roofing.
Not only is there a worker shortage but there is also a lack of building supplies.
It’s been a bumpy ride the last few years for new home builders with delay after delay. First, the pandemic and many a lockdown, had work grinding to a halt.
Along came the Home Builder Grant, while a savior to the building industry and one of the biggest stimulus injections the housing industry had ever seen, it brought about massive increases in building costs, supply issues, and lengthy waiting times for councils to approve development applications.
The ongoing severe shortage of building materials, combined with the demand for skilled tradespeople, has sent new home build costs soaring.
According to the 2022 Arcadis Construction Costs Index Report, released in August, there will be more than 100,000 unfilled roles in construction in Australia this year alone. Almost 50 percent greater than the number of people who are expected to be qualified to fulfill them.
Master Builders Australia estimates about 477,000 workers — including 200,000 in trades — will need to enter the building and construction industry over the next 4.5 years to meet forecast growth and replacement.
According to Dianne Dayhew, from the National Apprentice Employment Network, the completion rate for apprenticeships currently hovers around 55 percent and has done so for a long time.
While volume builders completing similar homes in a similar area would ordinarily bring in the “30 odd trades” required to do the work “in one hit”, Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn says the current skills shortage means “we simply cannot do that process”.
“It normally takes about nine months to build a normal residential home, it’s taking up to 12 months, simply because we’re not able to schedule the timing as consistently as we would like to have pre-pandemic.”
Geordan Murray, Executive Director – Industry Policy · Housing Industry Association (HIA) says, The big challenge at the moment is that we have reached ‘full-employment’. There are more jobs than workers and any newly created job leaves a vacancy elsewhere.
Skilled migration is the only viable way to increase the size of the workforce in a shorter timeframe. This presents a challenge for our industry because it has never fully embraced the opportunity to address skill shortages using skilled migration. It’s difficult to determine whether this is due to regulatory barriers or whether the industry has developed alternative solutions (or an acceptance) for labour shortages.
Whether or not businesses in our industry are able to address labour shortages by recruiting overseas workers, the return of students and skilled migrants working in other industries will fuel demand for more housing – and further compound the crisis.