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May 3, 2012 – 1:51PM

The housing sector may be struggling, but there is still a shortage of skilled labour in some parts of the building sector, a study has found.

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) Trades Report, released today, showed five of the 13 housing trades were under-supplied in the March quarter. These were in bricklaying, ceramic tiling, painting, plumbing and in the miscellaneous category.

HIA chief economist Harley Dale said the availability of skilled tradespeople is only marginally in surplus.

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‘‘These results provide compelling evidence of a structural shortage of skilled labour within the residential construction industry,’’ he said. ‘‘A large surplus of skilled labour would have emerged by now amidst very weak housing conditions, but that simply hasn’t happened.’’

Dr Dale said action needed to be taken to address the lack of skilled building trades people.

‘‘Now is also the time to reform the immigration system to support the specific skilled labour requirements of residential construction, something it currently fails to do,’’ he said. ‘‘You can’t just turn the skilled labour tap on when new home building recovers, especially when you are competing with the resources sector for labour.

‘‘Without further investment and reform, skilled labour shortages will inhibit the much-needed recovery in new home building activity.’’

The HIA trade prices index – which assesses the rates charged by traders – rose by 1.4 per cent in the March quarter to be up by 1.6 per cent, when compared to the same quarter in 2011.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/bricklayers-needed–despite-housing-slump-20120503-1y0uq.html#ixzz1tnWdQ0As

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