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Interview with Matt Shirvington, Sunrise


Event: Interview with Matt Shirvington, Sunrise
Date: 25 March 2024, 7.23am AEDT
Speakers: Denita Wawn, CEO Master Builders Australia
Topics: housing supply; labour shortages; migration


Matt Shirvington, host Sunrise: What about this challenge Australia is facing? The impossible task of needing to find an extra 90,000 tradies in just 90 days. BuildSkills Australia warns the workforce must increase from 590,000 to 680,000 by July if the government’s got any chance of delivering its goal of 1.2 million homes over the next five years. Industry insiders say we need a miracle to make that happen. But they’re not giving up just yet. Denita Wawn is the CEO of Master Builders Australia. Good morning to you. 90,000 tradies in 90 days. Where are they going to come from?

Denita Wawn, CEO Master Builders Australia: Yeah, it needs to be raining tradies. We desperately need more people. It sounds unrealistic. It probably is. But I think this figure just really reflects the difficulty that we’re going to have if we don’t resolve the tradie shortage in meeting the agreed target of 1.2 million homes over five years. The clock starts ticking on 1 July and we’ve got a huge, huge issue to resolve and we’re working hard to try and see if we can at least alleviate it by a certain number, but I don’t think we’ll ever meet 90,000.

Matt: So, where are they going to come from because they can’t be foreign workers or they’re going be building their own homes?

Denita: That’s right, Matt. It’s really, really difficult at the moment. We really need to focus on three key areas. One is migration, and we know that there are a large number of tradies in this country that can’t get their licences recognised, it’s too expensive and too cumbersome for them. So, we’ve got to focus on those who are currently in the country, but their skills aren’t recognised. The second area is training more Australians. We really are focusing on particularly school leavers, but also those who want a career change to look at a trade as an opportunity. And thirdly, we as an industry need to make sure that we’re not only retaining the current tradies, we’re actually calling back the ones that have maybe decided enough is enough.

Matt: Yeah, well, the federal government’s already said it’s an ambitious goal. They might need to rethink the target. Denita, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

Denita: Absolute pleasure.

Media contact:
Dee Zegarac
National Director, Media & Public Affairs
0400 493 071

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