A Common Problem Among Builders: The Bricklayer Shortage
A current complaint among builders lately has been the shortage of Bricklayers available in Sydney.
Among those I've spoken with, there are mixed ideas of why there may be fewer Bricklayers. One stated that the decline of Bricklayers is a mixture of the construction boom and the introduction of easier building methods. While home building is at a high, the supply of Bricklayers is worn thin with them being spread across all businesses with there being already very few Apprentices going through training or remaining in the trade. The trade itself is also not seen as enticing to many choosing a career path in trades and labour as it used to be. Many switch over to carpentry, electricity, plumbing etc. or just move on to other work. The bottom line is that not many Apprentices choose the trade any more and the demand of housing is still at a high.
It is also suggested that there are alternative construction methods which are replacing Bricklayers that are more preferred than conventional labouring - for example Dincel, a commonly used type of form work. Dincel is used to replace conventional labouring as it is faster, more cost efficient (up to 43% cost efficiency), more energy efficient and produces a stronger structure (can support up to mag. 9 earthquakes).
Despite the reasons of Bricklayer shortages, it is also consistently driving up the price of bricks for the past 3 years. A few commented that just last year bricks used to be even $0.98 and now they are $1.20 per brick. For larger builders who buy more than for just a few hundred homes, the prices are now $1500 per 1000 bricks and heading to $2000 - a record high.
A new solution found to be effective is bringing in overseas Bricklayers. This has been done by companies sponsoring them on 457 visas and by the Australian Government returning the trade back on the 'Skilled Occupation List' for them to be able to easily come to Australia and find work quickly. This method of sourcing trades is beneficial because many will be experienced and can get the job done well.
Anca Marinescu - Associate Consultant at Baker Andersen
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