Industry News
Fiona Nield

What is happening with trade contractors this year?

The residential building industry in Victoria relies heavily on the great work done by our trade contractors including carpenters, bricklayers, concreters, tilers, plasterers and painters. Much of this work is undertaken by trade contractors who run their own successful businesses.  Our industry cannot operate without these businesses. 

Trade shortages – the future of our industry

It is no secret that there is a record amount of residential building activity underway at the moment.  Many trade contractors are extremely busy and having to turn down or at least delay new jobs.   This is happening not only because there is so much demand but also because there are not enough skilled and experienced trades out there. The lack of trades is a long-standing problem and the current massive workload has just made it more obvious. 

The Victorian Government regularly states that it is committed to vocational education training. 

A Skills Plan is under development and there has been active engagement with industry groups to work out the future skills needed for Victoria. The importance of the residential building industry is acknowledged, and the government is seeking to improve the supply of vocational education to respond to the actual needs of industry. HIA’s view is that the Government should continue to support quality training from industry Registered Training Organisations to ensure there is a steady supply of new trades into the industry.  The TAFE system alone cannot provide enough new skilled workers for our industry.

Registration and Licencing of Trades

The government’s proposed registration and licensing of trades reform has been moving slowly along for over three years but still has the potential to significantly and adversely impact on the number of trade contractors. 

The scheme proposes that trades will need to be either registered, if you are a sub-contractor or licensed, if you are an employee, even if you only work for a builder and not direct to consumers. 

HIA has fought hard over 3 years to gain some key concessions.  Late last year, there were a number of amendments made to the law which responded in part to HIA concerns.  A new type of building registration referred to as ‘Registered Builder Subcontractor’ will be introduced.  This registration would not include the need for a trade to obtain DBI eligibility but it will potentially limit trade contractors in this category to only working for registered builders or undertaking small jobs for consumers where the value of the works is under $10,000.  

There is no action required from trades on this just yet. Regulations confirming all the details are still being drafted. These regulations are expected to be released as a draft for public comment soon and will give trade contractors who want to keep their business running a better idea of their future viability.  With increasing requirements on trades, amongst HIA’s concerns is that many experienced trades may end up leaving the industry in coming years. 

Carpenters are still set to be the first trade with registration and licensing but we will keep the industry informed on the progress of these regulations as they become available. 

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