Call to Builders on Serious WA Skill Shortage
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Dean Pearson with Caption V4


There is currently a very high demand for skilled bricklayers in WA, especially in the residential construction sector, coupled with a serious shortage of skilled labour and apprentices.A combination of increased building activity, ongoing demand for quality housing and the loss of trades to the mining and resources sector (particularly in 2012) have led to this high pressure situation.  The Australian Brick & Blocklaying Training Foundation (ABBTF) is doing all it can to address the shortage, but it needs action from all sectors of the industry.


Builders and their customers are currently experiencing delays in construction times due to a shortage of tradespeople.  To overcome this, it is essential that builders play their part by either directly developing a bricklaying apprenticeship training program or by encouraging all bricklaying contractors to always have an apprentice in the gang.

The ratio of bricklaying apprentices to the workforce is one of the lowest of all construction trades in WA and is the lowest of all Australian States in bricklaying.

Apprenticeship training support is required through high and low cycles as the average apprenticeship is lengthy, extending to 3-4 years.  For example, builders who supported the employment and retention of bricklaying apprentices in 2010 would just now be engaging those apprentices as tradesman post-apprenticeship.

Every time there is an increase in building activity, builders suffer from a lack of trained bricklayers, thus experiencing construction delays and invariably increased costs.  The answer is simple:  Continuously invest in trade training to ensure the availability of future quality tradesman to cope with demand in all cycles of the building industry.  The financial incentives are attractive.

Furthermore, to help retention, builders and employers can be more involved in the day-to-day development of apprentices, encouraging them not only to fully engage in the job and complete their apprenticeship but also to provide a solid pathway within the business for career advancement.

WA-based builder organisations that have consistently invested directly into construction apprenticeship training are currently enjoying:

  • Greater availability of quality tradesman,
  • Increased loyalty of trades,
  • Development of company-trained leaders,
  • Greater efficiencies in construction costs,
  • Verifiable product quality (new homes) and
  • Reduced rectification costs due to poor workmanship.

ABBTF, supported by the leading quality brick manufacturers (namely Austral Bricks, Midland Brick and Geraldton Bricks) are available to talk to other builders to help encourage trade sustainability through apprenticeship training.

ABBTF also recognises the excellent work both the MBA and the HIA are doing in the area of apprenticeship mentoring to increase retention rates across the construction industry.

Dean Pearson WA Manager


2 Responses to “Call to Builders on Serious WA Skill Shortage”

  1. BAB

    Hi Dean,

    Totally agree with the comments made, I was supported when I made the transition from Apprentice to Contractor by Plunkett Homes and that lead to 27 years of continued work with that Builder.

    Loyalty was mentioned in the above statement, I can honestly say that I repaid that loyalty to Plunkett Homes by devoting all my efforts to producing a quality product for the Company.

    In my opinion a project Builder that embraces the training of Apprentices ensures their future in the Industry – this is the fabric that enables a builder to meet labour demands, quality, efficiencies, and most importantly your Apprentice/contractor fully understands your processes and construction techniques.

    I believe that an Apprentice feels secure within the term of indenture, but as they near completion many start to discuss their future in other industries for reasons such as:

    • It’s hard to start up a business
    • I don’t think I can compete with Bricklayers that have been in the industry for years
    • I can’t get a start with a Builder
    • I can’t find anyone that will team up with me
    • I can get more money driving a truck
    • I don’t have the confidence to Brick up a house on my own
    • I can’t find a Builder that will give me continual work

    I believe the relationship between a Builder and Apprentice is built on support and trust-then returned with Loyalty.

    Mark Baker, SWIT Bunbury.

  2. Daniel Kemp

    I agree completely Dean, the onus of training new apprentices in the construction industry needs to fall back on to the builders, it will only benefit them in the long run by giving them quality tradesman when the apprentice has finished his time, just have to plan for the future not just for tomorrow.
    Silver Trowel trade Training is running a Bricklaying pre-apprenticeship course starting the 4th of August 2014.
    The course consists of 15 weeks training in the basic day to day duties of a 1st year apprentice working in a bricklaying team which can potentially prepare them for for a possible apprenticeship as a bricklayer.
    Part of the course is to place students into work experience with bricklaying teams as part of there training which in my experience in the industry generally leads to an apprenticeship providing the employer and the student are a good match for each other.
    For more information on this course contact Silver Trowel Trade Training on 9453 0777 and ask for Jessica.
    Be quick as numbers are limited.


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