It takes hard work to earn a trades qualification — but the rewards may be greater than young apprentices currently realise

Meeting a national demand

by Andy Bryenton

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the need for more qualified people at the forefront of the building trade. As the setbacks to the government’s affordable housing scheme make the news and calls to allow skilled immigrant workers to come and live here gain in volume, there’s also a big push to get young people into the construction trade.

In fact, it’s not one trade at all, but an interlocking group of industries, which have been working together, in some cases, since the time of the great castles and cathedrals in Europe. We might not see it from the outside, but the interaction between stonemasons, joiners, frame and truss manufacturers and others has to run like clockwork for a project to come together right. That’s why it’s alarming that we’re estimated to need tens of thousands of new building and construction professionals in the not so distant future — but it’s good news for those with an aptitude for this kind of work.

Those in the industry say there are many reasons to get involved. Foremost may be the fact that on average, a trades qualified person coming up through their apprenticeship is likely to be $100,000 better off after four years on the job than a university graduate. That’s the cost of a home deposit, and, it’s worth noting, it will be a home you can maintain and improve yourself. The odds of becoming your own boss with a successful business are higher too. Not to mention that fact that residential building value is forecast to hold steady for years to come, with a value of 26.6 billion dollars by 2023.

Then there’s the cost involved. Apprenticeships, which last conventionally between three and four years, provide an income rather than demanding a student loan and secondary employment which has to fit in around study. Instead, those who choose one of the more than 15 specific disciplines within the construction industry can be eligible for the first two years fees free, and a total cost of as little as two or three thousand dollars all up.

That’s a big difference at the start, which might make all the difference for the future.