New South Wales is facing a labour shortage that would force it to hire interstate and international workers to pick up the slack, the construction industry has warned.
While the state is building more homes than ever before alongside a surge in government infrastructure projects, Housing Industry Australia says the number of new workers entering parts of the construction industry such as bricklaying has flat-lined dramatically.
HIA has recommended 457 visas as a viable option for reinvigorating the faltering trade and others like it.
But Greens MP John Kaye warned jumping towards foreign workers would not fix the underlying problems or revive employment levels at home.
“It’s a measure of the failed policies of the Nationals and Liberals that the HIA sees it necessary to resort to 457 visas and imported workers,” he said.
“The 83,000 fewer students going through TAFE now, because of the competitive market policies, means 83,000 fewer trained people in NSW.
“It’s hardly surprising that we have a skills shortage.”
Dr Kaye said 100 TAFE administration staff in the Northern Rivers had “just been told their jobs are no longer secure”.
“These are the people who do the grind work, maintaining enrolments and keeping TAFE operating,” he said.
“The government needs to reinvest in TAFE and supply it with a secure budget.
“There are 2300 fewer staff now employed in TAFE and that has inevitable consequences – there just aren’t enough trainers to train the skilled workforce NSW needs.”