Tradies hit jobs jack­pot

High de­mand is fu­elling the earn­ing ca­pac­ity of South Aus­tralia’s trades­peo­ple, Han­nah Silverman re­ports.

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ACARPENTERS, painters and brick­lay­ers are among the state’s most cashed-up tradies. Be­cause of high de­mand and the com­plex skills in­volved, ex­perts say it’s not un­usual for these trades­peo­ple to en­joy salaries that ex­ceed $80,000.

Mean­while, wet trades such as con­cret­ing and brick­lay­ing can gen­er­ate up­wards of $55,000 for qual­i­fied work­ers.

Hous­ing In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion SA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Robert Hard­ing said car­pen­ters were the biggest money earn­ers.

‘‘Across the gen­eral con­struc­tion trades, it’s gen­er­ally ac­cepted that car­pen­ters can earn the most money and they have the best op­por­tu­ni­ties for ca­reer ad­vance­ment,’’ he says.

‘‘Brick­lay­ers have also earned ex­traor­di­nar­ily good money be­cause in times of high (build­ing) ac­tiv­ity, they are in de­mand and they can claim quite a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money per brick.’’

Plumbers and elec­tri­cians with strong skill sets that ser­vice the high end of the mar­ket are also able to com­mand high pay.

Mas­ter Builders As­so­ci­a­tion of South Aus­tralia chief ex­ec­u­tive Rob Ste­wart said con­struc­tion trades of­ten led to lu­cra­tive ca­reers.

In fact, the in­dus­try had al­ready wit­nessed suc­cess sto­ries in Scott Sal­is­bury Homes man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Scott Sal­is­bury, AV Jen­nings gen­eral man­ager John Howarth and Badge Con­struc­tions man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Jim Whit­ing, who made their for­tunes by es­tab­lish­ing their own hig­h­earn­ing busi­nesses.

531,200

45,500

NEW projects within the min­ing and de­fence in­dus­tries have cre­ated a shift in de­mand for skilled trades­peo­ple. But ex­perts warn that the in­dus­try needs to en­sure skills are trans­fer­able to keep up with the new de­mand.

SA Unions sec­re­tary Janet Giles ac­knowl­edges the min­ing and de­fence sec­tors will be the state’s biggest in­dus­tries in the fu­ture.

‘‘Our econ­omy in South Aus­tralia is shift­ing from largely based on man­u­fac­tur­ing into min­ing and de­fence and we’re go­ing to have to shift where the skills go,’’ she says.

‘‘That’s why it’s very im­por­tant that we de­velop skills that are trans­fer­able so if you’ve got a re­ally good ap­pren­tice, then they can go all over the place.’’

Ms Giles says there are lessons to be learnt from the min­ing boom in Western Aus­tralia. ‘‘What hap- pened in Western Aus­tralia was a lot of the trained, skilled peo­ple went into min­ing and cre­ated sig­nif­i­cant short­ages in other sec­tors, like man­u­fac­tur­ing and con­struc­tion, be­cause the money was bet­ter so peo­ple would shift,’’ she says.

‘‘We’ve learnt from Western Aus­tralia but there’s still a lot of work to be done .. .

‘‘The ap­proach that we’ve got is to try to plan around that.’’

Cast­ing the net fur­ther, it’s not only the min­ing in­dus­tries that are af­fected by the skills short­age.

Fig­ures from TAFE SA show the top five trades ap­pren­tice­ship com­mence­ments in 2009 were for elec­tri­cians, car­pen­ters, hair­dressers, chefs and mo­tor me­chan­ics – ar­eas that are in con­sis­tent de­mand.

Depart­ment of Fur­ther Ed­u­ca­tion, Em­ploy­ment, Sci­ence and Technology chief ex­ec­u­tive Ray­mond Gar­rand says those ap­pren­tice com­mence­ments are likely to in­di­cate the trades that are in short sup­ply.

‘‘Ac­cord­ing to the state’s Train­ing and Skills Com­mis­sion, South Aus­tralia is ex­pected to have around 134,000 job open­ings over the next five years,’’ he says.

‘‘This in­cludes around 53,000 new jobs due to eco­nomic growth and 81,000 re­place­ment jobs through work­ers re­tir­ing or chang­ing oc­cu­pa­tions.

‘‘Many of these jobs will be in trade-in­ten­sive sec­tors, with about 5000 job open­ings in the min­ing and en­gi­neer­ing sec­tors in the next five years. The com­mis­sion es­ti­mates that about 11,000 peo­ple are em­ployed in the de­fence in­dus­try, with strong growth ex­pected for the fu­ture.’’

It also sug­gests that be­tween 5000 and 10,000 jobs are ex­pected to open in the build­ing and con­struc­tion in­dus­try in five years be­cause of growth and re­place­ment de­mand.

Ms Giles says there are two ma­jor fac­tors fu­elling the trades short­age.

‘‘The skilled short­age is be­ing driven by, one, change in de­mo­graphic like baby boomers who are the skilled trades­peo­ple and who are close to re­tire­ment age now, and also a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in the ap­pren­tice pro­gram,’’ she says.

Pic­ture: CALUM ROBERT­SON

Car­pen­ter Rose Squire work­ing at Aldinga Beach.

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