Building Demand – Queensland’s Tradie Shortage Intensifies

Tradie Shortage Intensifies in QUeensland Regions

If you’ve been struggling to lock in a tradie, you are not alone! The Queensland tradesmen shortage has reached record-breaking lows with no quick fix to ease the pain. In 2023, Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ) estimated the Sunshine State’s construction industry was about 18,000 workers short of demand and the forecast for this year isn’t looking any better.

Construction purgatory is the new term being bandied around for when a person has the land, finances and contract to build or renovate but are not able to secure a tradie to do the work. For the tens of thousands of families affected by the recent storms and floods across Queensland, this is an added blow. Many will be forced to wait up to 12 months for repairs due to the Queensland tradie shortage.

What caused the Queensland Tradesmen Shortage?

Even prior to the loss of international workers during the global pandemic, Queensland’s labour and skill shortage was cause for concern. Since late 2019, construction job vacancies have risen by 80% and completion rates of apprentices have been stuck at around 50%.

“We lost two apprentices during the pandemic, so where we should have two qualified painters out on jobs, we’re training again from scratch.  Apprenticeships take four years to complete, so we need to start fixing this problem straight away,” said Veteran Painter, Stephen Cochrane.

The issue of fewer apprentices becoming qualified and therefore, entering the construction industry coupled with retention issues caused by low wages, job insecurity and unrealistic work expectations has left the sector in a state of panic. Despite the return of skilled migration in late 2021 and the slowing of home building activity towards the end of 2023, the Queensland tradie shortage has remained acute.

Easing the Tradesman Shortage in Queensland

In more bad news for families seeking to build or renovate, wait times for tradies are not expected to significantly improve in 2024. Recently, industry groups have pointed to a critical shortage of bricklayers, carpenters and roofers, in particular, although all trades remain in high demand across the country with the most severe shortages in Queensland.

Compounding the Queensland tradesman shortage is the significant state-driven capital projects keeping the construction industry occupied as the Queensland Government’s record four-year, $89 billion projected capital works program continues to dominate the pipeline.

 Skilled migration and investment in apprenticeships will help ease the Queensland tradie shortage

While the struggle to find enough skilled workers remains the industry’s biggest challenge, record-high numbers of apprentices in training provides hope. The 2023-24 CSQ Training Plan outlines a $50 million training and workforce investment to boost the capability and agility of Queensland’s building and construction industry.


While not sufficient to cover the wide labour deficit, these trainees will add to the pool of available construction workers as the state embarks on its next phase of construction projects. However, the need to attract skilled workers from overseas remains an integral strategy to address the immediate Queensland tradesman shortage.

“Demand is so high that we were delighted to be able to bring in new staff from South Africa, just to keep up with the workflow,” said John Salmon, Plumber Brisbane.

The scale of the projected tradesman shortage, Queensland is facing requires the construction industry to optimise all workforce options to bridge the gap, including apprenticeship pathways and having a strong focus on skilled migration. Australia is set to launch a new four-year temporary Skills in Demand visa in late 2024 for skilled workers that will allow tradies to change their employer and provide pathways to permanent residency. The visa will be split into three pathways, the first being a specialist skills pathway that expedites applications from highly skilled migrants. In a big win for the construction industry, the government has committed to a median visa processing time of seven days which is far quicker than the current 1–2-month timeline.

“The current review of Australia’s skilled migrant visa program is long overdue. There’s no excuse for staffing issues in the cities or the regions now that pandemic travel limitations have ceased,” said Ben Klatt of Skills Recognition International.

Tradies, it’s time to make the move to Queensland!

Now that the underlying issues that led to the Queensland tradie shortage are understood, and strategies have been put in place to support the industry’s growth, there is cause for optimism. Tradies should make the move to Queensland to benefit from the plethora of State government-funded, long-term projects on offer, a more flexible visa system soon to be in place and a lifestyle only the Sunshine State can offer.



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