The construction industry has weathered the COVID-19 storm quite well, to put it mildly. Tradie recruitment is now at its highest level in 12 years. With health guidelines in place, the industry could soldier on through the pandemic while scheduling new ones into the future.
With the government HomeBuilder grant extended to April 2021, residential construction is booming. On top of that, there’s the $14 billion government investment into new and accelerated infrastructure projects forecasted over the next four years. These projects will support 40,000 jobs in construction.
Some trades will feel the demand more than others, especially with the current skill shortage exacerbated by the decrease in skilled migrants. These are the trades most in-demand in 2021 and beyond.
Plumbers,The Essential Tradie
Even with the harsh 110-day lockdown in Melbourne, plumbers were given the green light to work. Deemed essential services, plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers were busier than usual. The repair of hot water cylinders, blocked waste, water pipes and maintenance of gas pipes and fittings were all necessary for health and safety. Their workload only increased with homeschooling and with people working from home.
The rise in single-unit house construction and home renovation due to HomeBuilder further increased the current demand for plumbing installation services.
Recruitment firm Hays also noticed an increase in demand for plumbers with experience in the commercial and maintenance sectors. Particularly those qualified in the gas fitting dual trade, TMV and backflow endorsements.
There’s been a shortage of plumbers in NSW since 2013. Most vacancies were for general plumbing and specialist roles in mechanical, drainage, gas fitter, and roof plumbing.
Electricians, Keeping Australia up with Technology
Another essential service during lockdown, sparkies, have been busy ever since, installing lights, powerpoints and other necessities in home offices.
Skilled electricians have also been in demand installing, maintaining, and repairing air conditioning or refrigeration systems across the residential and commercial sectors. Hays recruitment saw an increased demand for domestic HVAC technicians for service and installation work. Particularly those with both a Certificate III in Air Conditioning and an electrical licence.
The increase in technology will keep electricians busy. The rollout of 5G, the increasing uptake of solar, and the need for charging stations for electric vehicles all require qualified electricians.
Labourers, All Hands Needed
The National Skills Commission said Queensland and Western Australia have seen the strongest growth in recruitment nationally for labourers. The main sectors driving the recruitment have been farming and forestry, food preparation, mining, and construction.
In March this year, the Vacancy Report recorded a whopping 18,500 job advertisements for labourers. That’s up by 139.8 per cent over the year.
With low interest rates and more Australians now working remotely, people have been looking to relocate, especially out of the main cities. Combined with the HomeBuilder grant, labourers haven’t been short of work.
Bricklayers, Building the Country
The wet trades, bricklaying and plastering, have a significant skill shortage as they aren’t attracting as many apprentices as the other trades.
In Perth, the problem is even worse—many brickies have decided to earn more money working for the mines. Combined with the HomeBuilder grant and lack of skilled migrants, the bricklaying industry isn’t short of work. The majority of new homes in Perth are double bricked due to the sandy soil. This extra workload adds to Perth’s brickie shortage.
The WA Master Builders Association is predicting 20,000 homes will start being built in Western Australia over the next year, up significantly from last year, keeping the few remaining Perth brickies extremely busy.
Plasterers are in Short Supply
Recent statistics show Australia has a major skills shortage when it comes to plasterers, made worse when workers on temporary work visas left the country. There are only 27,000 plasterers in Australia, down by 25%.
Plasterers with experience in setting to sheeting for commercial and residential new builds and refurbishments are particularly in demand. Specific industry experience, for example in domestic, or fire protection plastering with specific technical skills are also sought after.
With building works underway, it’s the trades either in short supply or there’s a specific skill that’s in demand. Government building grants, the lack of skilled migrants, and the need to implement 5G, solar and electric vehicle technology will keep tradies busy now and well into the future.