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Wanted: 30,000 tradies for big projects

AN additional 30,000 tradies will be needed across Queensland in the next couple of years as $46 billion worth of infrastructure projects ramps up.

Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ) has announced a $37.6 million training package to meet the expected surge in demand for electricians, concreters, plant operators and plumbers.

CSQ chief executive Brett Schimming said Queensland risked having to import skilled labour from interstate if it did not act soon to increase its training of tradespeople.

Tradies will be in hot demand in regional areas including Townsville, Rockhampton and Far North Queensland as a start is made on major projects including the Port of Townsville expansion, Rockhampton bypass and the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Facility.

 

Construction Skills Queensland CEO Brett Schimming.
Construction Skills Queensland CEO Brett Schimming.

In the south-east corner, the start of Queen's Wharf and Cross River Rail will soak up more skilled labour and make up for flat demand in the residential building sector.

CSQ estimates there will be a need for 800 more concreters, 1100 earth moving equipment operators, 400 civil labourers and 1100 plumbers.

"As we pivot to these big projects a variety of tradies including concreters, plant operators, electricians and plumbers are going to be in high demand," Mr Schimming said. "The change is on now and we advise people to get going to get that trade ticket or licence.

"Top performing locations are predicted to be Townsville, Central Queensland and Far North Queensland and CSQ expects an increased level of training in these locations."

The funding will flow to registered training organisations, including TAFE, to allow people to start apprenticeships or upgrade their skills with new trade tickets or licences.

 

The Queen's Wharf development. Picture: Destination Brisbane Consortium.
The Queen's Wharf development. Picture: Destination Brisbane Consortium.

"After several years of strong growth in residential building in Queensland, 2019-20 will see the industry pivot to these large engineering construction projects," he said.

"Projects like Brisbane's Cross River Rail, the Port of Townsville Expansion and the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Facility will drive double-digit growth for the engineering sector, compared to the flat conditions faced by residential builders."

Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman said the training package would provide benefits to anyone with a career in the Queensland construction industry. "We want more young people to undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship," she said.

Mr Schimming said CSQ's training plan was tailored to the changing needs of the construction workforce in each region and the influence of major projects in the pipeline.

"CSQ's priority is making sure that all of the major projects and all regions in Queensland have a skilled and available local workforce to match the changing industry profile and to meet the specific needs at different stages of project delivery," he said.

 

Connor Stafford, 4th year apprentice plumber, from Allanna Plumbing Services. Photo Steve Pohlner
Connor Stafford, 4th year apprentice plumber, from Allanna Plumbing Services. Photo Steve Pohlner

 

Infrastructure Association of Queensland chief executive Priscilla Radice welcomed the training package but said a steady pipeline of infrastructure projects was needed in order for the right number of people to be trained.

"Uncertainty around projects and funding makes it difficult for companies to make decisions around apprenticeships and trainees," said Ms Radice.