Employment White Paper – putting VET on an equal footing

Master Builders Australia, has commended the Federal Government’s ambitious education priorities that seek to put VET on an equal footing with higher education.
The building and construction industry has faced critical labour shortages and appropriate skill levels, which dampens economic recovery and productivity growth says Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn.

“Developing an informed and evidence-based roadmap for Australia to build a bigger, better-trained, and more productive workforce is critical to our nation’s ongoing success.

“Improving productivity requires a multifaceted approach. Doing more with less will allow Australia to achieve better economic and societal outcomes.

“Investing in skills and training, better integration of tertiary education, and the development of higher and bachelor-equivalent apprenticeships will help address the bias with going to university over VET.

“However, the role of not-for-profit, industry-led registered training organisations should be recognised in developing these pathways.

“Construction is the backbone of the Australian economy, employing approximately 1.3 million people, providing infrastructure, commercial and community buildings, and homes for the growing population.

“The nature of work in the industry is evolving due to increasing business specialisation, more offsite building, technology integration, and complex regulatory requirements. However, we know vocational education is and will remain crucial to the workforce.

“Understanding the emerging and future workforce skills needs is critical for ensuring flexible pathways in the industry that meet the changing and diverse needs of workers, businesses, and employers.

“Master Builders is committed to a net zero built environment, and investing in ensuring we have enough skilled workers to meet this transition will be key,” Ms Wawn said.

Earlier this year, Master Builders released its blueprint for future-proofing the building and construction industry’s workforce, forecasting the need for 486,000 new entrants over the next three years.

“The building and construction industry needs to attract around 230,000 technicians and tradies, the vast majority of whom will need to enter the industry through a trade apprenticeship.

“Policies prioritising attracting, recruiting, training and retaining workers in the industry will be vital to ensure Australia’s housing and infrastructure needs can be delivered.

“The Employment White Paper has also rightly referenced the challenge of female participation in the building and construction industry.

“Improving the industry’s attractiveness to women presents a massive opportunity to increase the pool of potential workers.

“The Women Building Australia program is one example of an industry-led initiative to provide appropriate mentorship and support for women entering the industry, which has helped see an uptick of female participation over recent years.

“We look forward to continuing working closely with the Government to help meet the objectives in the White Paper and thank the Treasurer for his collaboration and constructive consultation with the industry,” said Ms Wawn.

However, the roadmap and policy directions within the paper are being undermined by the far-reaching industrial relations Bill being pursued by Minister Burke.

“We need to make it easier to do business, foster job creation and sustainable wages growth, encourage new entrants, and reverse flat-lining productivity – which the Government’s IR Bill seeks to do the opposite.

“With 98 per cent of businesses in building and construction being small businesses, more can be done to simplify complex and inconsistent regulatory requirements so tradies can spend less time in the back office and more time on the tools, growing their business and employing more people.

“Conditions that support business success support higher levels of employment. Reducing the complexity and time spent by businesses on regulatory obligations and administrative tasks will free up time for the money-making part of business operations.

“The IR legislation is completely inconsistent with the long-held concepts that underpin the workplace relations system and productive labour market,” Ms Wawn said.