Apprentice carpenter Trent Middleton on the job yesterday at a Skyline Drive house in North Rockhampton.
Apprentice carpenter Trent Middleton on the job yesterday at a Skyline Drive house in North Rockhampton. CHRIS ISON

Too few tradies to meet demand

THE Central Queensland housing industry needs about 300 tradespeople in the next six months to keep up with building demand, an expert says.

Housing Industry Australia chief economist Harley Dale yesterday told The Morning Bulletin that there was currently a major shortage in the critical trades of bricklaying, carpentry, ceramic tiling and plumbing, (based on the latest HIA-Austral Bricks Trades Report).

Mr Dale said the industry statewide had lost more than 4000 building apprentices during the economic downturn and fewer people were taking up careers in the critical trades.

“There is a shortage of skilled tradespeople to make up for those retiring at the other end,” Mr Dale said.

Final year apprentice carpenter, Rockhampton’s Trent Middleton could soon join the exodus of skilled workers from the local industry.

The 23-year-old plans to work for himself and in the near future work as builder while he travels through Europe.

And the hands-on man already has a cabinet making trade under his belt.

“I thought I would get into carpentry while I’m still young and it opens up the door to other opportunities,” Trent said.

“I could never work in an office, and if you work hard you will get work anywhere,” he said.

According to the Wageline website, under the Building Construction Industry Award, the weekly wage for carpenters and plumbers is $742.14.

For a plasterer and floor tiler, the weekly wage is similar at $737.58.

Trent, who is currently working on a Skyline Drive home at Cascade Heights in North Rockhampton, is employed by Neil Edwards Construction - a sub-contractor for Ted Price Homes.

Ted Price Homes manager Adrian Price said they were paying good dollars for trades workers.

“We are facing a shortage of unskilled workers. Its tough finding good labourers,” Adrian said.

He said towards the end of 2008 when workers were being snapped up by the mines, they experienced issues keeping people on.

This financial year, Mr Dale predicts an estimated shortfall of just under 700 workers for CQ.

He said those figures were based on the number of people employed in the trades sector and the amount of homes needed to be built to meet Rockhampton’s growing population.

Think Real Estate principal Jason Rayner yesterday said they were seeing a lack of new homes being built considering the demand, in particular units.

“At the moment we have about three new houses on the books out of about 150 listings,” Mr Rayner said.

“The price of land is still at a good rate but builders just can’t get the workers,” he said.

He said they had seen a surge in new home buyers who weren’t prepared to wait.

“Rather than waiting for a home to be built and renting in the meantime, buyers are snapping up fairly new homes for around $380,000 to $520,000.”

HOUSING TRENDS

In 2009 total dwelling approvals in Rockhampton fell 34% to 181.

In 2009, total dwelling approvals in the Fitzroy fell 32% to 928.

Demand for housing over the next 10 years for new housing in Rockhampton is about 2744 dwellings

Demand for housing over the next 20 years for new housing in Rockhampton is about 4974 dwellings

HIA estimates that there are 4800 persons employed in residential construction in the Fitzroy region.

Housing Industry Australia statistics



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