Future under construction
Reports on a sector where apprentices are in steady demand
APPRENTICE intake in Queensland’s construction industry has increased by more than 54 per cent in the past decade, outpacing all other states bar Western Australia.
Construction Skills Queensland’s
reveals 4.1 apprentices were hired per 100 workers in 2015, up from 2.7 per hundred in 2006.
Despite the Global Financial Crisis and slowdown of the resources sector, demand for construction apprentices is consistent and strengthening, CSQ chief executive Brett Schimming says.
“From 2006 to 2015, the number of qualified construction workers created by the apprenticeship system more than doubled,” he says.
CSQ director of evidence and data Robert Sobyra says Queensland had been tracking below the national average intake for nine out of the past 10 years but had now overtaken the average and outperformed almost every other state.
He says the civil sector – engineering and construction of pipelines and mines, etc – has increased its appetite for apprentices in recent years.
“The qualification is called civil construction in plant operations so it’s people operating big diggers, excavators, trucks,” he says.
“It’s a broad qualification and I think it’s a great option. All construction apprentices have great opportunities, I don’t see any of them fading away.”
In the residential sector, Sobyra says there is a lot of interest in bricklayers and stonemasons.
“There might be a lot of people who identify themselves as bricklayers but house builders, particularly bigger production house builders, are only taking on brickies who are qualified,” he says.
“It’s now a licensed trade so if you don’t have your ticket you’ll have a much harder time getting work.”
The CSQ report finds a shift in apprentice demographics.
In 2006, more than 65 per cent of male apprentices were aged 19 or younger when starting but this dropped to 41 per cent by 2015.
Sobyra says more workers are getting a taste of the industry – as a labourer, for example – before committing to an apprenticeship.
“I think it’s a really healthy pathway because noncompletion rates are very high compared to other industries,” he says.
Sobyra says employers are increasingly seeking older apprentices. “In the civil sector, you’ve got apprentices driving machinery worth a couple of million dollars so (employers) are more inclined to want a mature-age worker,” he says.
The portions of indigenous and female apprentices are also increasing, the report finds.
While women only comprise 2.5 per cent of Queensland’s construction apprentices, representation has doubled in a decade. Scooter Group plastering apprentice Krystien Absolon is the only female in her workplace but says it doesn’t bother her.
“Girls are willing to just give (trades) a crack and surprisingly they are doing really well at it,” she says.
Absolon recommends other women considering a trade should start with work experience before committing to an apprenticeship to make sure it’s what they want to do.
GIVING IT A CRACK: Krystien Absolon, a plastering apprentice at Scooter Group, says females are doing well in trades.