The Budget 2022: What Australia’s tradie industry needs, now
Australia’s tradies are the backbone of the economy, playing a critical role in rebuilding our country in the wake of recent natural disasters. The industry has been sandwiched between the pressure of supply chain inflation and capacity constraints caused by unprecedented demand.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced a $365.3 million investment aimed at attracting an extra 35,000 apprentices and trainees. This is a welcome recognition of the critical importance of the industry but fails to address the current capacity issues impacting the industry today.
While it is predicted that tradies will be big winners in this evening’s budget announcement, immediate action to ensure the industry’s long-term sustainability will be the most valuable. I have outlined how this could be addressed below.
1.Open national borders to skilled migrants
Bring in more tradies. It is that simple. The federal government needs to open the borders for immigration now, or we risk the tradie industry stalling and economic growth stagnating. Demand is far outstripping supply after two years of industry disruption. We need more skilled labour now, and the fastest way to do that is by opening the border to skilled professionals. While apprenticeship schemes are essential for long-term industry sustainability, it can be a seven-year journey from starting an apprenticeship to running a business; the industry and the economy need people ‘on the tools’ now.
2. Incentivise tradies to focus on residential work
Australians need homes, and the unprecedented demand is crippling tradie small businesses as they struggle to keep up. The government, at both federal and state levels, needs to incentivise tradies to prioritise residential work to cope with the pent-up demand, with local tradies supplemented by skilled overseas workers.
3. Further support for digitisation to improve industry efficiency
Where is the government support to improve how our tradies operate digitally? Tradies are pedalling so fast that they haven’t had the opportunity to digitise their business and free up time for more hands-on, profitable activities. Homeowners are now demanding a level of sophistication in the way tradie businesses present themselves. Lack of digitisation is a lack of efficiency and that will hit them hard. Government subsidies and incentives for technology tools that help them run their business would go a long way.
4. Natural disaster incentives
There needs to be a forward plan for our natural disasters. We’re living in flood recovery right now. Sadly, we’re looking at insurance events and, in some cases, there is no economic rate to protect homes. People are crying out for tradies to help but donating time also takes them away from their business operation and that has an ongoing impact. I’d like to see the government considering incentives and rebates for tradies offering community service. There are charities out there that could validate the jobs.