Master Builders welcomes support by the State Government aimed at encouraging more young people to take up apprenticeships. Image – Canva.
  • The reforms include a $26.9 million increase in the Base Employer Grant for third and fourth-year apprentices
  • A one-off $2,000 completion payment was announced to encourage more apprentices to finish their training
  • Master Builders WA Executive Director says the funding is a step in the right direction

In a bid to accelerate the state’s new housing supply pipeline, the WA government has announced a $47.6 million boost for the skilled residential construction workforce.

As part of the 2023-24 Budget, the newly allocated funds will support fresh initiatives aimed at increasing local training opportunities and attracting skilled workers from overseas.

Housing Minister John Carey says the WA government is using every lever to boost housing choice and supply of social housing throughout Western Australia.

“It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted and changed the housing market, in Australia and internationally,” he says.

“In a heated construction market this initiative is set to attract more workers to our State, boost the delivery of housing and complement our existing innovative social housing reform program.”

John Carey, WA Government Housing Minister

Funding to attract skilled migrants

The newly announced funding dedicates $11 million towards targeted visa subsidies of up to $10,000, aimed at attracting as many as 1,100 skilled migrants to the building and construction industry.

An additional $2.4 million has been set aside to promote skilled migration to WA and provide visa advisory services,

There have also been temporary modifications to the State-sponsored visa program to streamline the process of connecting skilled migrants with job opportunities in WA.

Training Minister Simone McGurk says the new migration incentives do not mean the government is losing sight of the importance of training local workers.

“The new migration initiatives funded in our 2023-24 Budget will ensure WA remains the State of choice for skilled migrants, helping employers fill vacant jobs in the building and construction sector.”

Funding for local training

New measures in this year’s Budget include $26.9 million to increase the Base Employer Grant for all third and fourth-year apprentices by 20%, from $10,000 to $12,000. The grants are designed to encourage local businesses to take on local workers.

$4.6 million will be dedicated to one-off $2,000 completion payments to encourage more apprentices to finish their training in the building industry.

The allocated funds will be used to broaden the scope of the Group Training Organisation Wage Subsidy program, which will now cover apprentices and trainees in the residential and commercial construction sectors. This expansion will provide support to a greater number of small and medium sized businesses.

In addition, there is a $2.7 million injection in resources to accelerate the processing of occupational licensing approvals.

REIWA says funding is a “welcome move”

REIWA CEO Cath Hart has welcomed the McGowan Government’s budget announcement.

“These initiatives to attract international building trades and increase local construction apprentices will expand the WA building industry’s ability to meet the housing needs of the state’s growing population,” Hart said.

“Whether it is rentals, established stock or new homes, supply remains the biggest issue facing our property market, so [the] announcement to expand WA’s residential building workforce is a welcome move.

Master Builders say more may be needed

Master Builders WA Executive Director, John Gelavis says the announcement is a step in the right direction.

“In April 2023, Master Builders Australia released its blueprint for future-proofing the building and construction industry’s workforce in the wake of a shortage of half a million workers nationally,” Gelavis says.

“WA will need almost 55,000 workers by 2026 and around 26,000 of those are in the trades.”

Master Builders estimated construction worker shortage by November 2026

Managers Professionals Technicians & Trades Admin Machinery Labourers Total*
AUS 64,557 31,850 229,053 46,571 31,558 78,029 481,618
NSW 22,455 10,232 69,272 14,765 7,574 26,574 150,872
VIC 17,1 17 9,134 63,161 11,256 7,453 18,338 126,459
QLD 12,180 5,933 45,390 9,685 8,128 16,439 97,755
SA 3,506 1,543 14,685 3,212 2,231 5,972 31,149
WA 5,823 3,601 26,451 4,716 5,104 8,337 54,033
TAS 1,461 551 5,1 10 961 545 1,349 9,979
ACT 1,390 605 2,918 1,334 284 451 6,982
NT 625 234 2,065 643 239 568 4374

 



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