The WA State Government will deliver a $47.6 million boost to Western Australia's building and construction workforce in the 2023-24 Budget, which includes a range of new initiatives to ramp up local training and attraction of skilled workers from overseas. The additional funding is targeted to further grow the State's residential construction workforce and accelerate delivery of the current pipeline of homes, as well as expand industry capacity to deliver new housing supply to keep pace with population growth in WA.
New measures in this year's Budget include:
- $26.9 million to increase the Base Employer Grant for all third and fourth-year apprentices by 20 per cent, from $10,000 to $12,000, to encourage local businesses to take on local workers;
- $4.6 million for a one-off $2,000 completion payment to encourage more apprentices to finish their training in the building industry and for school students to learn about the diverse career options in construction;
- expansion of the existing Group Training Organisation Wage Subsidy program to include apprentices and trainees in the residential and commercial construction industry, opening the program up to assist more small-to-medium businesses;
- $2.7 million boost in resources to expedite approvals of occupational licensing;
- $11 million for targeted visa subsidies of up to $10,000 to attract up to 1,100 skilled migrants to the building and construction sector, plus an additional $2.4 million to promote skilled migration to WA and visa advisory services; and
- temporary changes to the State sponsored visa scheme to make it easier for skilled migrants to connect with job vacancies in WA.
These latest measures build on an extensive range of initiatives previously rolled out to support a locally skilled WA workforce. The State Government is already supporting priority industries to access skilled workers from interstate and overseas, including through temporary changes to the State Nominated Migration Program (SNMP) and the addition of 34 in-demand construction occupations to WA's Skilled Migration Occupation List.
Temporary amendments will be made to the SNMP criteria for 2023-24, including:
- waiving the requirement to provide a six-month contract of employment for visa subclass 190 applicants for building and construction trade occupations; and
- prioritising invitations for industries with critical demand for skilled workers, including building and construction, health and medical, teaching, tourism and hospitality occupations.
The McGowan Government is continuing its strong representation to the Commonwealth Government to secure additional places for the SNMP, requesting an increase to 10,000 places for the 2023-24 program year to support local industry to fill job vacancies and alleviate skills shortages. A $4.25 million Skilled Migration Job Connect program has also been established to remove barriers and connect migrants to employment in WA. The new program includes financial support of up to $7,500 for skilled migrants to undertake skills assessments, gap training and meet occupational licensing requirements, assisting newly arrived skilled migrants to gain employment in occupations commensurate with their formal overseas qualifications, skills, and experience.
The Skilled Migrant Employment Register is also helping to connect skilled migrants with WA jobs and will be further improved to make it easier for employers looking for workers to seamlessly connect with skilled migrants. With more than 4,600 migrants and more than 140 employers already registered, the Skilled Migrant Employment Register will be promoted through a digital advertising campaign, roadshow, and relevant government events.
For more information visit http://migration.wa.gov.au
The State Government is also establishing a Skilled Worker Attraction Government Steering Committee - to be chaired by Deputy Premier Roger Cook and Training Minister Simone McGurk - that will consult with industry and other key government stakeholders on matters relating to skilled worker attraction and addressing high-priority needs of the WA labour market, including the construction industry. This committee will also provide oversight of implementation of the Government's visa support programs.
These initiatives complement the Government's $195 million Reconnect WA program, which includes initiatives to attract overseas skilled workers, backpackers and international students to the State and several international advertising campaigns running to attract workers in key industries, including building and construction.
"The new migration initiatives funded in our 2023-24 Budget will ensure WA remains the State of choice for skilled migrants, helping employers fill vacant jobs in the building and construction sector." says Training Minister Simone McGurk. "But we are not losing sight of the importance of training local workers - the expansion of the Group Training Organisation Wage Subsidy program to the residential construction sector will help to attract more construction apprentices and trainees to this in-demand industry. There were already 10,000 apprentices and trainees in training for the building and construction sector at the end of 2022, including 500 women and a record number of building and construction electrical apprentices. "As a Government we're doing everything we can to not only encourage more workers to get into training, but to ensure that they finish their training - and take up rewarding positions in building and construction and other in-demand industries."
Housing Minister John Carey added "Our Government's message is clear - we're using every lever we can to boost housing choice and supply of social housing throughout Western Australia, particularly to support the most vulnerable members of our community. It's no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted and changed the housing market, in Australia and internationally, and in a heated construction market this initiative is set to attract more workers to our State, boost the delivery of housing and complement our existing innovative social housing reform program. We're already investing a record $2.4 billion in social housing and homelessness measures, which will deliver around 3,300 social dwellings and complete refurbishments and maintenance work to thousands more, with further announcements to be made in the 2023-24 Budget."