New estimates suggest Australia will need a massive influx of construction workers to meet its home building goals. 

BuildSkills Australia, an entity appointed by the government to address construction workforce hurdles, says Australia is grappling with a substantial shortage of tradespeople.

The group says the urgent recruitment of 90,000 construction workers is needed to meet the federal government's ambitious target of constructing 1.2 million new homes within the next five years. 

To achieve this target, the construction of 60,000 new homes each quarter would be required.

Denita Wawn, the Chief Executive of Master Builders Australia, has called for an expedited process to bring migrant construction workers into the country. 

“I’m concerned that there is no way known we can get 90,000 [workers] in three months, unless we had a radical change in the way upon which we are looking at our migration system, and our skill recognition system to support a fast-tracked migration solution,” she said.

Rob Sobyra, leading research at BuildSkills, also called for a streamlined migration process for skilled tradespeople and proposed an increased investment in prefabricated homes as a potential solution to the labour shortage. 

Without a significant boost in the workforce, he said the construction industry would perpetually be “chasing our tail” to meet the housing objectives.

The predicament is further compounded by an ageing workforce, with Wawn predicting a loss of approximately 8 per cent of the workforce annually due to retirements and departures. 

Julie Collins, the Federal Housing Minister, says the government has a strategy to support state and territory efforts through financial initiatives aimed at bolstering housing construction and supply. 

However, the current vacancies in construction trades across New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland reveal a significant gap between the demand for and the supply of skilled tradespeople.

Brendan O’Connor, the Skills and Training Minister, says the government is committed to improving apprenticeship and training outcomes to address the evolving demands of the labour market, including the housing sector.