Fresh fears of tradie shortage emerge

 

Fresh fears of an extended nationwide tradie shortage have emerged in wake of the Federal Budget, with the housing and construction booms showing no sign of slowing and home values expected to continue to rise.

Record low interest rates and a series of government incentives has created an incredible spike in demand in housing activity, including for tradespeople.

If you're struggling to find the right tradie to work on your home, the bad news is you might be waiting a while.

Australia's leading housing body, the Housing Industry Association said there will be an "unprecedented volume of building starts in 2021".

"HomeBuilder and lower interest rates have facilitated a surge in demand for detached homes that ensures a record number of new detached homes will be built this year and into 2022," HIA Economist Angela Lillicrap said.

An expectation mirrored in the Budget Strategy and Outlook.

"The near-term outlook for housing activity has strengthened considerably, supported by an elevated pipeline of construction work and rising house prices," the Budget document read.

Demand on leading tradie jobs platform hipages is up an incredible 111 per cent year-on-year.

Stuart Tucker, chief customer officer at hipages said the platform had a "observed an unprecedented surge in requests for home extensions and additions", with more than 138,000 jobs posted in a single month.

Alex Taskun of GT Plumbing said the current demand for tradies was incredible.

"I am very, very busy, I've been knocking back a lot of work," he said

"To keep up I've been working 14 hours a day, six days a week. I keep saying to myself 'I'm not going to work 'til 7.30 tonight' but it keeps happening."

Plumber Alex Taskun is working more than 80 hours a week. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Plumber Alex Taskun is working more than 80 hours a week. Picture: Tim Hunter.

Mr Taskun said a shortage of materials due to the boom in demand was also leading to an increase in prices.

"We are trying to keep our prices as they are, but brass, copper, resin has all gone up by 10 per cent and a lot of tradies are passing those costs onto the customer," he said.

"There is a big shortage of a lot of this stuff."

The 26-year-old said the government was right to address the tradie shortage via apprenticeship incentives but that wouldn't solve the situation in the short term, which was exacerbated by shoddy work.

"20 to 30 per cent of my work is fixing up other plumber's work and 20 per cent of it is fixing up DIY stuff ups," he said.

According to Josh Frydenberg's Budget speech: "New house starts are now the highest in 20 years. New loans to first home buyers reached their highest level in nearly 12 years."

New loans to first home buyers reached their highest level in nearly 12 years. Picture: customcoasthomes.com
New loans to first home buyers reached their highest level in nearly 12 years. Picture: customcoasthomes.com

Mr Taskun urged desperate homeowners to be patient in their search for the right tradie.

"Look at their work on Facebook or Instagram or TikTok and get references from their former customers," he said.

"And trust word of mouth, not what you read on Google reviews. There's the old saying the best plumbers don't advertise because their customers do that for them."

However the tradie shortage won't last forever.

In Tuesday's Budget the government announced a further $1.5 billion in wage subsidies.

Roby Sharon-Zipser, Co-Founder and CEO of hipages said the money was sorely needed.

"As new residential developments grow and a tradie shortage is already among us, it's critical the construction sector attracts the next generation of talent, so supply meets a rising demand," he said.

"With the property boom showing little sign of slowing, and therefore busy schedules for our tradies.

"It's expected 270,000 new apprentices and trainees will be hired under this wage subsidy scheme by March next year. It is also anticipated to help women break into non-traditional trades, with training support for 5,000 places."

The government also expects demand to ease in the medium term.

"The policy-driven strength in demand for detached house construction partly reflects a bring-forward in demand from future years and activity is expected to moderate as the current pipeline of work is completed," the Budget Strategy and Outlook continued

"As the outlook for elevated levels of detached house construction unwinds, slower population growth is also expected to limit demand for higher-density dwellings in coming years, such that the recent strength in housing market activity is not expected to be sustained."

At Home magazine cover May 15
At Home magazine cover May 15

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Originally published as Fresh fears of tradie shortage emerge