• All Industries
  • Aged Care Disability
  • Automotive
  • Bricklaying / Blocklaying
  • Building & Construction
  • Carpentry & Joinery
  • Childcare & Education
  • Community Service
  • Concreting
  • Engineering
  • Health & Beauty
  • Horticulture
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Kitchen, Bathroom & Laundry Renovation
  • Landscape Construction
  • Other Trade Courses
  • Painting & Decorating
  • Plumbing
  • Roof Tiling
  • Short Courses
  • Wall & Ceiling Lining
  • Wall & Floor Tiling
  • Waterproofing
  • White Collar Courses
Let qualify me, qualify you
Let qualify me, qualify you
Construction -Electrical Licence - Qualify Me Sydney Trades Qualification

Construction : Construction industry trade skills shortage 2015

Construction: There is a lot of noise out there of the building boom and many statistics to show that Sydney dwellers especially are building and renovating at a rate not seen previously. For those of you like me that like their details, check out the attachment showing builds per suburb over the last few years. From one side, this of course is great news as it means there's heaps of work to keep those in the construction industry busy; but there's always the grim side, where do you find tradies to help you find your skilled tradies done?!

So it makes sense, if you don't already hold a licence in your trade then it's definitely the right time to pick one up! RPL & Skills Recognitions has never been easier. If you have the experience, then your're probably fit for the qualification needed for your Trade Licences.

Skills shortage

So where exactly is the skills shortage? We dug deep to find out. Here's a summary of our findings including a short list of the most common job roles in the construction industry and their associated shortages. Again for those that prefer details, I've attached a report from the Department of Employment for each skill.

Occupation Rating
Bricklayer Shortage
Stonemason Shortage
Carpenters and Joiners Shortage
Floor Finisher Recruitment difficulty
Painting Trades Worker Shortage
Glazier Regional shortage
Fibrous Plasterer Shortage
Solid Plasterer Shortage
Roof Tiler Shortage
Wall and Floor Tiler Shortage
Plumbers Shortage
Cabinetmaker Recruitment difficulty

General findings and issues in the construction industry

  • Stronger building activity in the last couple of years led to an increase in demand for construction trades workers in NSW, but new supply to these trades from apprenticeship completions fell. Hence trade shortages are now more prevalent.
  • The Department of Employment Survey of Employers who have Recently Advertised (SERA) found that the proportion of construction trades worker vacancies filled in 2013 was 51 per cent. This was below the success rate of 66 per cent in 2012.
    • The average number of applicants per vacancy fell from 9.1 to 5.0 over this period while the average number of suitable applicants per vacancy fell from 1.3 to 0.7.
    • In 2012, four of the twelve construction trade occupations assessed by this department were in shortage in NSW or nationally. This increased to 10 in 2013.
  • Although the proportion of vacancies filled for bricklayers (58 per cent) was above the average for the construction trades as a whole, shortages of bricklayers were nonetheless evident in Sydney and regional NSW.
    • Unfilled metropolitan vacancies were distributed across various areas of Sydney including the Eastern Suburbs, the Sutherland Shire, the Hills District, and western and north-western Sydney.
    • Unfilled and hard-to-fill regional vacancies were located in a number of different areas of NSW including the Hunter, the Central Tablelands and southern NSW.
  • Shortages of carpenters and joiners were evident in the main specialisations of the occupation including carpentry, joinery, and carpentry and joinery.
    • Unfilled and hard-to-fill vacancies were distributed across various skills sets such as carpentry, formwork carpentry, shopfitting, the installation of bathrooms and kitchens, and detail joinery.
    • For formwork carpenters, positions requiring experience in class one formwork (which produces high-quality, sometimes decorative, finishes) proved particularly difficult to fill.
    • For joiners, positions requiring detail joinery for customised shopfitting or doors, stairs and window frames also proved difficult to fill. A number of employers commented that most qualified applicants for such positions showed a preference for site work over workshop work.

Chart: Proportion of vacancies filled, average number of suitable applicants per vacancy, Construction Trades, NSW, 2008-2013

  • Painting trades worker has also moved into shortage over the past year.
    • The proportion of vacancies filled declined from 76 per cent in 2012 to 56 per cent in 2013.
    • Shortages were evident in most areas of Sydney and various regional locations including the New England, Mid North Coast and Hunter regions (although all surveyed Newcastle vacancies were filled).
    • Unfilled vacancies were distributed across a number of industry sectors including residential, health and rail projects.
    • Employers were almost equally divided between those seeking direct employees and those seeking sub-contractors. In general, vacancies requiring painters with their own ABN and insurance were more difficult to fill.
  • For fibrous plasterer, 46 per cent of vacancies were filled in 2013 compared with 100 per cent in the 2012 sample.
    • The proportion of vacancies filled was similar for Sydney and regional NSW.
    • There were shortages across various suburbs of Sydney and in the Mid North Coast, Hunter and north-western NSW regions.
    • Unfilled vacancies involved new building, renovations and repair work and included positions requiring experience in the sheeting, framing, fixing and setting of plasterboard, and the fixing of cornices and decorative pieces.
  • Employers seeking wall and floor tilers had the least success of those in the construction trades under review.
    • Thirty-five per cent of vacancies were filled in 2013, with an average of one suitable applicant for every two vacancies.
    • Unfilled metropolitan vacancies were located in various suburbs of Sydney and aspects of wall and floor tiling including residential repair and maintenance, general tiling, and specialist tiling such as bathrooms and wet areas.
    • Unfilled regional vacancies were located in various parts of the state such as the Hunter, Orana and Central Western regions.
  • Shortages of plumbers are evident in Sydney and regional NSW.
    • The proportion of plumbing vacancies filled declined from 76 per cent in 2012 to 48 per cent in 2013.
    • In Sydney, unfilled and hard-to-fill vacancies were distributed across a wide range of suburbs and industry sectors including maintenance and new construction work in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.
    • In regional NSW, there were unfilled and hard-to-fill vacancies in a number of locations including the Hunter, the Illawarra and the Riverina.
    • Metropolitan shortages were evident for general plumbers and plumbers specialising in particular areas such as draining/relining, roofing and guttering, and metal roofing.
    • In regional NSW, shortages were most evident in specialised areas such as roof plumbing and draining for large civil projects.
  • Employers seeking cabinetmakers had the most success in filling vacancies among the trades under review.
    • About 73 per cent of vacancies were filled within the survey period. This compares with a success rate of 21 per cent in 2012.
    • A minority of Sydney employers were unable to fill vacancies or had difficulty in doing so. Recruitment difficulties were most evident for positions requiring high quality work for custom furnishings or shop fittings.
    • Due to a lack of quality applicants, a number of employers engaged cabinetmakers with only limited trade skills (for example, those lacking the ability to work independently from plans) and were compelled to rearrange their work processes accordingly.
    • Some employers in regional towns were also unable to fill their vacancies. In a small number of cases, advertisements did not attract any qualified cabinetmakers.
  • While advertisements for construction trades workers attracted an average of five applicants each, an average of less than one applicant per vacancy was considered suitable by employers.
  • A large majority of employers advertising for carpenters, painters, plumbers and cabinetmakers were seeking workers with formal trade qualifications in the relevant trade. For fibrous plasterer and wall and floor tiler, around half of advertisers were seeking formally qualified workers. The majority of employers seeking bricklayers, however, preferred to assess applicants on the basis of their experience and a work trial.
  • The most common reasons cited by employers for the unsuitability of applicants were that they were not qualified, they were considered to have a poor attitude or reliability or they had inadequate skills.
    • Other frequently cited reasons for the unsuitability of applicants were that they failed a trial, lacked experience or did not hold a licence or insurance when that was a requirement.
  • Demand for construction trades workers benefited from improved building activity in 2013.
    • The value of building work done in NSW increased by 11.3 per cent in the year to September 2013 after having fallen by 11.4 per cent the previous year.
    • Residential building increased by 12.4 per cent in the year to September 2013 while non-residential building grew by 9.7 per cent.
    • Labour Force Survey data suggests a modest increase in employment of construction trades workers over the year to November 2013.
    • Vacancies for construction trades workers increased by 5.1 per cent over the same period.
  • New supply of construction trades workers, including cabinetmakers, from apprenticeship completions fell in 2012-13 to be seven per cent below the average for the previous five years
  • Census data indicates that the average effective supply to these trades from overseas immigration was about 570 persons per annum from 2006 to 2011.
    • Data for visas granted to construction trades workers under temporary business entry and the skilled migration stream indicates an increase in immigration levels since 2011.
  • Census and apprenticeship completions data imply a wastage rate from the construction trades of 4.7 per cent per annum from 2006 to 2011. This was similar to the rate for the trades as a whole.
  • The training rate for the construction trades is 3.6 per cent a year, which compares with 3.5 per cent for all trades.


For more information on the shortage in construction trades, check out the following links:

  • bricklayer and stonemason
  • cabinetmaker
  • carpenter and joiner
  • fibrous plaster
  • floor finisher
  • glazier
  • painting trade worker
  • plumber
  • roof tiler
  • solid plasterer
  • wall and floor tiler

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *