New government task force tackles solutions to Australia’s skills shortage

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
4 Min Read

A new government-backed task force is searching for solutions to Australia’s worsening skills shortage in the construction sector. 

Launched this week by Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’ConnorBuildSkills Australia is already hard at work penning the country’s first workforce plan for the industry and promises to be a “strong and strategic voice” in the coming years. 

The BuildSkills team are just one part of another newly formed government entity, the Jobs and Skills Council (JSC), which was established to address Australia’s dire skills and training shortage. 

According to Infrastructure Australia, trades and labourers shortages are growing at the fastest rate and will remain acute until 2025 – a forecast deficit of 131,000 full-time workers by the end of 2024. 

The Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business predicts there will be a need for an additional 44,000 workers in the construction sector alone by the end of the year.

BuildSkills Australia Board Co-Chair Paula Masters said the BuildSkills task force would provide leadership, innovation and a level of research and insight not previously available to the industry.

“Our priority now is to develop the first-ever national workforce plan for the construction, property and water industries, and this work is already well underway,” said Masters.

“The comprehensive plan will support federal government policy-making and support skills and training needs across the sector.

“BuildSkills’ workforce plan will place a priority on ensuring the skills and training of today meet the needs of the future.”

According to Minister O’Connor, BuildSkills is critical to providing foundation support to the men and women in construction that make the Australian dream possible. 

“Sectors under BuildSkills’ remit are also important for creating and maintaining environments that connect communities,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“They allow us to enjoy our favourite sporting endeavours through venues, facilities and spaces that make positive contributions to social cohesion and improve the wellbeing of Australians.

“This extends to some of the less obvious aspects of our lives and things we take for granted; like clean, running water and sanitation, being able to safely travel from home to work or study, being confident in the real estate we are renting, buying or selling; all made possible by these industries and the hard-working Australians employed by them.”

Construction Industry Culture Taskforce Chair and BuildSkills Co-Chair Gabrielle Trainor AO said Australia was looking for a new way forward with a strong, diverse workforce.

“The built environment sector is changing rapidly, and I foresee amazing opportunities particularly for women to step up and fill roles they may never have considered before,” she said.

“Creating new pathways and increasing diversity in the workforce is essential for a more productive industry to support strong growth in the country’s economy.”

With over $400 million in taxpayer dollars being thrown behind the industry’s skills reform and a workforce plan expected later this year, tradies will have to wait and see if more money and a fresh set of eyes are the answer to a shortage that has plagued the industries for almost a decade.

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.