Australia's Tradie Shortage - A Booming Industry

Posted: 16th Sep

A 6-figure starting salary. Flexible working hours. Being debt free.

Do any of these perks come to mind when you think about a career as a tradesman? Or do other stereotypical assumptions of a poor and unkept tradie surviving on a diet of meat pies alone prove more prevalent? This stigma around trade is part of the reason why the Trades and Services industry is both one of the most underrated and in high demand. Among one of the fastest growing industries in Australia, with a 23.3% increase in job opportunities in the past year, there has never been a better time to dive right into a new career.

What Does a Tradie Do?

Tradies, tradesmen or tradeswomen are professionals in a wide variety of roles, usually with a specialisation. These roles range from working on new buildings to maintaining existing ones. From being a plumber, an electrician, auto mechanic or carpenter, to installing heating and cooling systems or even operating cranes, a career as a tradie is one spoiled for choice.

All these roles are an essential part of Australian life, necessary for the thousands of homes, offices, hospitals and other infrastructure being constantly built, fixed or renovated, that make up everday life for Australians. Being able to go to work and accomplish something tangible, be it a fixed toilet, drain or electrical wire, fosters a real sense of achievement and satisfaction that some office jobs, where you are just another cog in the system, do not.

Speaking of office jobs, forget about the monotony of the 9-5 regime. While some tradies work full time for contractors or companies, there are many other options for a flexible work schedule, from being self-employed to subcontracting on a project-to-project basis. This flexible schedule allows workers to choose when are where they are working, be it outside on a big construction project or a more personalised service of home visits to help fix the heating, plumbing or other system that seems to have gone astray.

What Is The Tradie Industry Like?

While it may not seem it, with the abundance of tradies you see at construction sites, or in the kitchens and bathrooms of your own homes, there is a shortage of people pursuing careers in this profession compared to the demand for their services. Listed on the Australian National Skills Needs List, with the Government providing generous financial support and benefits to trade apprentices, the incentive to get into trade is higher than ever.

But what is causing this shortage? Experts have narrowed down the decline of apprentice numbers across the country to a few factors. More and more young people are passing on apprenticeships, choosing instead to pursue tertiary education. Some think the younger generation make this choice because they are too ‘soft’ to do hard labour, others nail it down to a push for tertiary rather than vocational qualifications by parents. There is also significant disproportion in the gender share of workers; females only make up 0.8% of the workforce. While manual labour jobs may be seen as a stereotypically male dominated career, in a time of labour shortage, now is more time than any to set the balance right and encourage more women to break into the tradie industry.

Another big contributor to the labour shortage is the recent boom in construction, with the growing housing and infrastructure projects requiring more tradies than will be available in a few years due to the sheer lack of prospective apprentices.

With this increasing demand for tradies and the skills they bring to the market, and the proven financial advantage, both with government assistance and significantly lower course fees than tertiary education, there’s no time like the present to make a splash into this booming industry.

Tradie Industry Insights

What Does It Take To Become A Tradie?

To become a tradie, you must possess certain skills that will allow you to work efficiently and make decisions on the spot with the information you are given about a project, site or blueprints for the specific job you are working. While qualifications are needed to help fine-tune these abilities, it is important to be aware of and have a baseline of the following skills as a tradie.

Important Skills You Will Need:


Other than these critical skills, qualifications and on-the -job experience are essential for making it in the tradie industry. Often one of the misconceptions when it comes to tradies is that they are unskilled labourers without any form of formal education. This could not be further from the truth.

To become a tradie, you are required to complete vocational training and typically obtain a Certificate III/IV. Training consists of work experience, an apprenticeship and on the job training combined with the qualification to be certified.

After you’ve got your certification, the world is your oyster! Here are some of the many opportunities that you can embark on and choose from in your career.

Industries You Can Choose From:

  • Construction
  • Public Administration and Safety
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Water
  • Waste Services
  • Automotive and Machinery

Career Outcomes Include:

  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Carpenter
  • Sheetmetal Worker
  • Painting Worker
  • Welder
  • Rigger

With all these opportunities at your fingertips, what’s stopping you?

Your future career as a tradie awaits.

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