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How Queensland's Tradie Shortage Will Escalate in 2024

  • Written by John Salmon, Brisbane Master Plumber

A tradie shortage in Queensland is delaying renovations and leaving homeowners who experience property emergencies in deep water.

With demand for new houses at the highest levels seen in living memory, a perfect storm has been brewing. With an insufficient number of tradies around to do the job, competition to get one on site is fierce.

The COVID-19 pandemic is viewed as the starting point of the issue, but our problems started long before then. We simply do not have enough people completing trade apprenticeships in Australia to meet the demand.

Industry bodies point to the high number of would-be tradies who fail to complete their apprenticeships as just one of the factors contributing to this. Poor wages in the apprenticeship phase, as well as managers who simply don’t have the time or skills to nurture a new person into the industry, has been implicated in short tenures of some apprentices.

The pandemic certainly added to our tradie worries, however. As increasing numbers of expat Australians started to return home and look for places to buy, rent or build, no new skilled or semi-skilled migrants were able to make the move.

This increased competition for existing housing stock, has pushed up house prices and seen record numbers of Australians sleeping in temporary accommodation, including tents.

Despite the fact that there is plenty of work about, many building companies simply do not tender for new work anymore, because they are working at capacity already, with few new staff coming down the pipeline.

The Queensland Deluge: A Flood of Work for Tradies

The Christmas and Boxing Day 2023 storms in South East Queensland and the destruction wrought by ex-tropical cyclone Jasper in Far North Queensland earlier that month, have added to renovators' woes.

Worse still, tens of thousands of households reported storm damage from these events. These residents face a long wait to see repairs done and possibly a spike in prices, a scenario which has occurred after natural disasters and extreme weather events in recent years.

The events have already increased demand for tradies significantly.

John Salmon, a local plumber with an established name in Queensland, has seen many ebbs and flows in the industry. In his experience, the current shortage is unprecedented.

“As a Brisbane tradie for the last three decades, this is the worst shortage I've seen during my career.”

He has some advice for homeowners planning renovations, saying, “In my experience, the best way to dodge the worst of a tradesperson shortage is to order seasonal work outside of peak season. So, get your hot water installation done before winter comes. Get your pool landscaped, air-con fitted or your patio built in winter, not after the first warm day of the year.”

While planning ahead can help property owners with planned work, John cautions, “In this current climate, if you get hit by an emergency, the wait time for builders in particular is at crisis point.”

About the author

This contribution is by John Salmon. An entrepreneur driven by dissatisfaction and a knack for plumbing, John founded Salmon Plumbing in 1991. Based in Brisbane, John dedicates himself to providing residential and commercial plumbing solutions, prioritising customer service, compliance, and excellence at the forefront of his business model. Honoured with the 2023 Master Plumbers’ Association of Queensland (MPAQ) President’s Award, John’s expertise within the industry is well established. The full expert profile of John Salmon can be found here.


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