As part of its comprehensive submission for the forthcoming 2024-25 Victorian State Budget, Master Builders says the industry needs to rethink some of the traditional attitudes to attracting and maintaining an adequate skilled workforce to answer future building demands. 

“At the moment, something like one out of every two apprentices across the building and construction sector don’t complete their apprenticeship,” said MBV CEO Michaela Lihou. 

“Clearly, with so much current and future demand for skilled trades, that’s not something we want, and we need to get to the bottom of the impediments those apprentices believe they’re facing.”

Along with financial incentives to get apprentices to start and complete their training, MBV is also calling for strengthened mentoring services for apprenticeship groups such as women in male-dominated trades, First Nations apprentices, apprentices with disabilities and apprentices located in remote Australia and any other apprentices whose apprenticeship is at risk of non-completion.  

“We also need to think about developing more flexible pathways for people of all ages to enter our industry,” said Ms Lihou.

“So, we need to work alongside the Victorian Skills Authority to enable them to engage with the industry to understand what those alternative pathways could be, and then appropriately fund those opportunities.”

Ms Lihou also said schools should also be “recognised and rewarded” for the number of students who take up an apprenticeship and complete a VCAL/VCE Vocational Major or ATAR pathway.

“As we all know, many schools have a much stronger focus on university pathways into potential careers, rather than apprenticeships, but university isn’t necessarily the right career option for everyone. We have to work harder to convince parents and teachers alike that apprenticeships can lead to exciting, challenging and financially rewarding careers and businesses.”

Ms Lihou also said it was time for a rethink about the issue of skilled migration to alleviate the skilled labour shortages currently affecting the industry.

“We urgently need to review the Temporary Skill Visa framework and guidelines to increase the prospect of transition from temporary to permanent migration to stabilise the skills shortage. And we believe the Skilling Australians Fund Migration Levy needs to be lowered to make it more accessible for employers,” she said.

“Improving pathways for future apprentices is an important focus, but we have to recognise it will take time – possibly up to four years – for them to become fully qualified.”

“We can’t ignore the need we have today, and the opportunity to have skilled workers landing on the ground in much shorter time frames, utilising those opportunities of skilled migration should not be underestimated.” 

The MBV budget submission also calls for a $4 million commitment every four years to establish a new mental health training program for apprentices of all trades.   

“We need to allocate further resources and funding, to upskill businesses in alignment with incoming psychosocial laws to protect the long-term health and resilience of all our workers, including our apprentices,” she said.

AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT: Master Builders Victoria CEO, Michaela Lihou

MEDIA CONTACT – Leigh McClusky 0411 711 780 [email protected]