Builders warned of tradie crisis
BUILDERS from Townsville will have to be shipped into Cairns if predictions of a major construction trade shortage next year prove correct.
Construction Skills Queensland director of data and evidence Robert Sobyra has looked into his crystal ball and forecast a 21 per cent labour shortfall in Cairns in 2019.
He believed construction was booming in Far North Queensland with the growing workload outpacing growth in apprenticeships.
“A rapidly failing unemployment rate which is currently at 5.5 per cent, signals that this construction boom is starting to leave its mark on the economy,” he said.
Mr Sobyra will deliver his full prognosis at an Urban Development Institute of Australia lunch in Cairns on Thursday.
Master Builders Queensland president Ralf Dutton agreed commercial construction workers would find themselves in high demand but said residential development potential was being stifled by miserly home valuations.
“Valuers keep undervaluing the properties that people want to buy,” he said.
“They’ve held the market down for so long that they may succeed in holding it down even further, now that the bank lending is tighter.
“We believe there will be an increase, certainly in the com- mercial sector, and that normally flows on to housing.”
Mr Dutton said valuers were ignoring the fact that Far North tourism was on a 20year growth plan with ageing Baby Boomers putting Cairns in the hot seat.
“The rental returns are incredible,” he said.
“You can build a $375,000 house at the moment and rent it for $420 a week.
“Normal people can’t get loans so it’s just investors making the money.”
Nevertheless the commercial sector, anchored by Crystalbrook Collection’s three hotel developments, means builders will be in short supply.
“If housing goes as well, it is going to be even worse,” Mr Dutton said.
“Townsville is very quiet at the moment and really just down the road.
“A lot of tradies will come from there, if they haven’t already left to other places.”