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Building Construction, Federal Budget

Finding Australia’s missing tradies

Master Builders Australia 2 mins read

27 March 2024

Releasing its supplementary Budget submission, Finding Australia’s missing tradies: Harnessing our skilled migrant workforce, Master Builders Australia has today made recommendations to help migrants navigate complex and unnecessary barriers to work in the industry.


The building and construction industry needs more workers if we are going to build 1.2 million homes over the next five years, says Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn.


“We heard from BuildSkills Australia this week that the industry needs to attract 90,000 tradies in the next 90 days.


“The domestic workforce cannot keep up with demand in the short term. Skilled migration represents a vital piece of the workforce puzzle,” Ms Wawn said.


The building and construction industry has a proud history of a migrant-strong workforce. Today, workers who were born overseas make up about 24 per cent of the total workforce. However, those who arrived within the last five years only represent 2.8 per cent.


Ms Wawn added: “Australia is not alone when it comes to skilled workforce shortages which will prove a challenge in itself.


“When seeking to attract more skilled trades into Australia, it is important to look to migrants who are already in the country.


“This is an underutilised cohort of potential workers who could fill workforce gaps in the short term.


“There are a number of skilled migrants already in Australia who are working in roles below or unrelated to their qualifications or work experience in their home country.


“Some are waiting on skills assessments or qualifications recognition, which, according to the Parkinson Migration Review, could cost nearly $10,000 and take up to 18 months.


“For many, it is simply too hard to have their professional capacity recognised to work in a trade in Australia, and they are instead in roles that present fewer hurdles to obtain.


“Master Builders believes more support is needed and the Federal Budget provides an opportunity to get the ball rolling.”


Recommendations include:

  • Provide access to English language education to help migrants upskill, noting that this will also assist them if seeking permanent residency.
  • Provide simpler and more accessible coaching for migrants on how to find a job in the industry – the higher education space is an example of success in providing support to international students.
  • Subsidise the cost of upskilling or training to fill any skills or qualification gap that might exist between the migrant’s home qualification and the Australian requirements.
  • Allow migrant workers to access financial subsidies to complete trade apprenticeships.
  • Work with state and territory governments to streamline occupational licensing requirements and ensure internationally comparable qualifications or requirements are quickly recognised without the need for long skills recognition processes.
  • Ensure pathways to permanent residency are clear and enticing for skilled migrants already in the country who have building and construction qualifications and experience. Fast-track these people to permanent residency if they are working in building and construction.
  • Expand eligibility for the graduate visa and graduate visa extension to all Australian Qualifications Framework Certificate III and above qualifications.


Media contact: Dee Zegarac, National Director, Media & Public Affairs

0400 493 071 |


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