In the light of ongoing challenges in meeting the bricklayer shortage in NSW, the industry joined together for discussions on the evening of Wednesday, September 23 at Rooty Hill RSL. The night was co-ordinated by ABBTF NSW, and manufacturers Adbri Masonry, Austral Masonry, Austral Bricks, Baines Masonry, Boral Bricks, Namoi Valley Bricks and PGH Bricks and Pavers. The three hour meeting was attended by 80 guests including builders, bricklaying contractors, Group Training Organisations and industry associations.
ABBTF’s CEO Geoff Noble facilitated the meeting and seven speakers from different facets of the industry laid out the issues and the actions they are taking to address the shortage, with discussions following. In the order of presentation they were:
- John White, ABBTF NSW Manager, reported on the bricklaying skills shortage and strategies to recruit new apprentices, outcomes to date compared to past periods of supply shortage and on building activity data.
- Trades Staff Australia (YC Industry Link) presented a Group Training Organisations perspective based on employing 47 bricklaying apprentices.
- The Masonry Contractors Association of Australia highlighted issues for the bricklaying trade.
- Western Sydney TAFE spoke from the perspective of bricklayer training requirements and the needs of overseas students.
- Ron Ringer, writer of the Brickmasters and Materiality Books gave an insight into bricklayer shortages in Sydney dating back to 1923.
- ConX presented on their company that provides the first cloud-based job networking platform specifically for the Australian Construction Industry.
- Mandy Harris from AJ Harris Migration Matters presented on the process and opportunities of employing 457 visa holders as bricklayers to the NSW market.
Participants welcomed the sharing of information and there was an exchange of views on future actions resulting from the information presented.
Geoff Noble requested feedback on the impact of current ABBTF strategies and asked for new ideas to improve recruiting of young people to start an apprenticeship. He emphasised that, with the shortage being felt across the building industry, it was incumbent on all participants to contribute to identifying new strategies. Specific knowledge of the recruitment and apprenticeship chain from each perspective is highly valuable in building towards a superior solution.
The skills shortage discussion received media coverage with an article in the Australian Financial Review on industry seeking solutions to the labour shortage.
ABBTF NSW Manager