PERTH, AAP – Western Australia will ramp up efforts to address labour shortages that have imperilled the construction industry as unemployment hits a near-record low.
The state’s jobless rate in March fell to a nation-low 3.4 per cent, the lowest level in 14 years.
WA accounted for more than 40 per cent of all jobs created for the month, according to the state government, with almost 1.5 million people now in work.
Premier Mark McGowan says participation has also climbed to a near-record level, with labour demand strong across the entire economy.
“Broadly speaking, every industry is going through some significant growth and demand for additional workers,” he told reporters on Thursday.
The premier acknowledged labour force shortages remained a major challenge, particularly for the construction industry.
Two Perth home builders – New Sensation Homes and Home Innovation Builders – have gone into liquidation in recent days, citing issues with costs, labour and supplies.
It comes after major construction group Pindan appointed administrators last year.
Material shortages have been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while the rising price of steel has also caused difficulties.
Having met with the Master Builders Association this week, Mr McGowan declined to weigh in on rumours other home builders could be facing similar collapse.
“I don’t want to talk the industry down,” he said.
“The problems are ones of success. We have so many homes being built, we have so many new contracts that were signed … and they don’t have a provision for escalation in cost.
“For individual builders in their contracts with individual home purchasers, I just urge both parties to work together and negotiate so that they can get their home built.
“There’s not a great deal the state can do about those individual contracts.”
Mr McGowan said campaigns advertising for workers to move to WA had been rolled out across Australia and would also run internationally.
The premier had no regrets about introducing stimulus grants for WA home builders early in the COVID-19 pandemic to complement the federal government’s HomeBuilder package.
“No contracts were being signed,” he said.
“The entire industry which employs sixty or seventy thousand people was in danger of dying and there being a valley of death in which everyone was sacked and businesses went broke all around the state.”
Mr McGowan, in his capacity as treasurer, will hand down the state budget on May 12.