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Call for apprentice quotas on all govt construction projects

01 April, 2008

Building companies that win Government construction contracts, including the low-cost housing program, should be required to meet a formal apprentice quota, the CFMEU has said.

CFMEU Construction national secretary Dave Noonan urged the Government to ensure that the Housing Plan was truly a nation-building project by using it as a tool for building skills in the industry.

"The Rudd Government's housing initiatives are supported by the CFMEU and they have the potential to deliver flow-on benefits to the entire economy if handled with a broader vision," Noonan said.

"While the Housing Industry Association's solution is simply to fly in foreign workers, we see massive benefits for the nation if we can use this project as a way of building our national skills base.

"The CFMEU has been advocating for some time for formal apprenticeship quotas linked to total hours worked on Government projects. We see the quota as somewhere around 10 per cent of total hours worked on the projects being carried out by apprentices.

"The Housing Industry Association is behaving like a rabbit caught in the headlights, as the skills crisis comes crashing down on the construction industry," Noonan said.

"The sad reality is that just under 50% of all young Australians who commence apprenticeships drop out before completing and if the industry lobby were serious about skills they would be focusing on addressing this problem."

Noonan also called on the HIA to embrace the CFMEU's Ten-point Plan to address skills shortages in the industry, which includes:

  • raising apprentice wages to reflect contemporary living costs
  • reducing the time it takes to complete an apprenticeship
  • and the introduction of pre-apprenticeship schemes.
    • "Without investing in giving young Australian's construction skills, we will never build capacity in the industry and be left, like the HIA, looking for band aids to apply to broken legs."

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