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