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Master Builders Australia helps find Australia’s missing tradies

Master Builders Australia helps find Australia’s missing tradies

Master Builders Australia has released its supplementary Budget submission, Finding Australia’s missing tradies: Harnessing our skilled migrant workforce, aimed at helping migrants navigate complex and unnecessary barriers to work in the construction industry.

Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia, emphasised the urgent need for additional workers in the building and construction sector to meet the demand for constructing 1.2 million homes over the next five years.

“We heard from BuildSkills Australia this week that the industry needs to attract 90,000 tradies in the next 90 days,” said Wawn. “The domestic workforce cannot keep up with demand in the short term. Skilled migration represents a vital piece of the workforce puzzle.”

The building and construction industry has a proud history of a migrant-strong workforce. According to the Grattan Institute, today, workers who were born overseas make up approximately 24 per cent of the total workforce. However, those who arrived within the last five years only represent 2.8 per cent.

“Australia is not alone when it comes to skilled workforce shortages which will prove a challenge in itself,” said Wawn. “When seeking to attract more skilled trades into Australia, it is important to look to migrants who are already in the country.”

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Wawn added that this cohort of potential workers is currently underutilised and could serve to address immediate workforce shortages.

“There are a number of skilled migrants already in Australia who are working in roles below or unrelated to their qualifications or work experience in their home country,” said Wawn. “Some are waiting on skills assessments or qualifications recognition, which, according to the Parkinson Migration Review, could cost nearly $10,000 and take up to 18 months.”

“For many, it is simply too hard to have their professional capacity recognised to work in a trade in Australia, and they are instead in roles that present fewer hurdles to obtain.

“Master Builders believes more support is needed and the Federal Budget provides an opportunity to get the ball rolling.”

The recommendations outlined in Master Builders Australia’s supplementary submission include:
  • Provide access to English language education to help migrants upskill, noting that this will also assist them if seeking permanent residency;
  • Provide simpler and more accessible coaching for migrants on how to find a job in the industry – the higher education space is an example of success in providing support to international students;
  • Subsidise the cost of upskilling or training to fill any skills or qualification gap that might exist between the migrant’s home qualification and the Australian requirements;
  • Allow migrant workers to access financial subsidies to complete trade apprenticeships;
  • Work with state and territory governments to streamline occupational licensing requirements and ensure internationally comparable qualifications or requirements are quickly recognised without the need for long skills recognition processes;
  • Ensure pathways to permanent residency are clear and enticing for skilled migrants already in the country who have building and construction qualifications and experience. Fast-track these people to permanent residency if they are working in building and construction; and
  • Expand eligibility for the graduate visa and graduate visa extension to all Australian Qualifications Framework Certificate III and above qualifications.

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