“The federal government’s announcement of a $60 million pilot trial wage subsidy for employers in rural and regional areas stresses the conspicuous failure of the Victorian Government to offer similar support for nurturing skills in the building and construction industry—its largest full-time employer,” said Master Builders CEO Radley de Silva.

“And while the federal trial is a good thing, and we welcome the investment, there is plenty of opportunity to increase funding even more in building and construction to meet heavy demand,” Mr de Silva said.

 “Victoria faces a critical shortage of skills in the building and construction trades simultaneous with the greatest demand on them in the state’s history; it’s a perfect storm,” Mr de Silva warned.

As the largest full-time employer, our industry generated over 316,000 jobs by August 2018. There were nearly 100,000 firms in the Victorian construction industry as at the end of June 2017, or 16.8 per cent of the 590,820 businesses within the state. This makes the building and construction industry the largest industry by number of businesses in Victoria.

As our population growth outpaces every other state, our demand for housing and infrastructure grows with it. But the Victorian government could do more in supporting programs that can do the most to meet that demand, like a wage subsidy plan similar to the federal government’s, or backing the industry registered training organisations (RTOs) like Master Builders’ which consistently outperform TAFE in skills uptake, course completion rates and student satisfaction.

“In Victoria, response to this skills crisis among all parties has been tepid at best,” Mr de Silva said.

“I don’t know where they think the skilled workforce will come from to deliver all of the current and approved projects on time and within budget,” he said.