Master Builders Victoria (‘Master Builders’) is the leading voice in building and construction in Victoria and welcomes the opportunity to provide input into the registration and licensing of building trades. Master Builders has long supported the introduction of a domestic mandatory trade registration system that is simple, effective and practical in its approach, so as to ensure the quality of construction work conducted. This is achievable by first focusing on key existing trades identified as having significant quality gaps and deemed important to the structural integrity of the building. Introducing such a system will ensure that the Victorian building and construction industry remains an industry that prides itself in promoting continuous improvement and excellence.

However, the scope of the Building Amendment (Registration of Building Trades and Other Matters) Act 2018 (‘the Act’) encompasses both the domestic and commercial sector. As a result, Master Builders believes that in order to successfully implement such a registration system, a new framework for registration must be created across the domestic and commercial sectors. The current dichotomy between domestic and commercial registration is inconsistent with the reality of how work is conducted across much of the industry.

One possible structure for registration is categories based on height of construction which can be applied across the domestic and commercial sectors:

 Builder Unlimited
 Builder Limited (medium rise)
 Builder Limited (low-rise)

Master Builders in the past has advocated for such registration categories, though this was restricted to the Registered Builder. Given that amendments to the Building Act 1993 allow trade registration of subcontractors to encompass both the domestic and commercial sector, such a registration model would enable Victoria’s registration system to align more closely with the educational outcomes and skills required to carry out building work. It will also align the system with the builder registration schemes in many other jurisdictions, which do not distinguish between commercial and domestic registration.

Master Builders has fundamental concerns with the proposed licensing scheme for employees. First, the reasons for introducing employee licensing are unclear. Extending mandatory registration to a sub-contracting sole proprietor or company is a logical step to facilitate an improvement in standards. By contrast, employee licensing, particularly under a system without comprehensive training requirements, runs the risk of adding little to no benefit in quality, while imposing immense cost on the industry, which ultimately will be borne by the consumer.

The question also remains whether such a scheme can feasibly be introduced into the industry given the lack of officially defined scopes of work currently conducted by construction employees. Defining clear work roles in the building and construction industry is an exceptionally difficult task as work roles are often multi-varied and ever changing in scope. In particular with the latter, this is due to changes in construction techniques and technology. Increasing demand for sustainable buildings and developments in pre-fabrication technology are examples of this.

As such, prior to any consideration for an employee licensing scheme, the criteria identified in Part 2 (particularly criterion 8) should be used to identify the types of work conducted in the industry which justify a licensing scheme. Any licensing scheme should only be applied in areas where sufficient deficiencies exist and where the benefits outweight the cost of implementation.

Should employee licensing be introduced despite our strong concerns with it, knowledge and skills relevant to the work function must be the same across registered and licensed individuals. This is necessary to facilitate consistency and quality across the industry.

The aforementioned concerns will guide our responses to the following consultation questions.

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