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Master Builders propose migrant workforce solutions

Market Insights
1 week ago
2 minutes

Master Builders Australia has presented proposals addressing the barriers faced by migrants in the Australian building and construction industry. The organisation shared its recommendations in a supplementary budget submission aptly titled, 'Finding Australia's missing tradies: Harnessing our skilled migrant workforce.'

Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia, explained the industry requires a great number of workers to meet its goals for the next five years.

"The building and construction industry needs more workers if we are going to build 1.2 million homes over the next five years," said Ms Wawn. 

Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia, cites the recent claim by BuildSkills Australia regarding the necessity to attract 90,000 tradies in the upcoming 90 days.

She pointed out that the domestic workforce would not be able to keep up with this demand. 

"Skilled migration represents a vital piece of the workforce puzzle," she added.

The building and construction industry proudly boasts a substantial number of workers born overseas, accounting for around 24% of the total workforce. However, those who have arrived within the last five years currently represent a mere 2.8%.

Ms Wawn further noted that Australia's skilled workforce shortage parallels challenges other countries are facing, emphasising the importance of utilising in country migrants.

"This is an under-utilised cohort of potential workers who could fill workforce gaps in the short term," Wawn said. 

According to reports from the Parkinson Migration Review, the process for receiving skills assessments or qualifications recognition can cost nearly $10,000 and take up to 18 months, leading many to settle for roles that are less demanding in terms of qualification recognition.

Master Builders recommends several remedial measures including improved access to English language education, more efficient coaching for job-seeking migrants, subsidised upskilling training, financial subsidies for migrant trade apprenticeship completion, streamlined occupational licensing requirements, and ensuring clear and accessible pathways to permanent residency for skilled migrants already in the country.

The Federal Budget has been highlighted as an opportunity to address these issues. 

"Master Builders believes more support is needed and the Federal Budget provides an opportunity to get the ball rolling," concluded Ms Wawn.

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