Students and career changers should consider a future in construction

March 15, 2024 BY

Skye Jeschonek-Pride, now 32 years old, was working in real estate before she decided to pursue a career as a carpentry apprentice, and last year was named one of the State Apprentices of the Year.

The hunt is on for more hands on deck to sustain the big build that both organic demand and the National Housing Accord’s target of 1.2 million new homes has created.

It is an ambitious target at best, and industry bodies are acutely aware that they don’t have the labour resources in place to meet the target in a timely manner, so have now put the call out to students and career changers to jump on board and jump on the big bucks.

As Victorian universities swing back into action for 2024, Master Builders Victoria is urging students who completed Year 12 last year and who may not have achieved the ATAR they’d hoped for to consider a potential career in the building and construction industry, with more than 200 career options on offer.

Master Builders Victoria (MBV) chief executive officer Michaela Lihou said while many students achieved their ATAR targets and qualified to move into studies of their preferred careers, many may have not, and may now be contemplating what to do next.

“One of the biggest challenges for the building and construction industry is our shortage of skilled workers and tradespeople, and there are literally hundreds of job opportunities within our industry ready and willing to take on young people.

“I think many people only see high-vis and hard hats when they think about our industry, but the breadth of what we do means there are so many non-trade skills required as well, that offer great career paths.”

The career path is quite diverse in the construction industry with roles being sought for architects and engineers to health and safety managers and contract managers, digital engineers and building surveyors, right through to people on the tools like carpenters, electricians, painters, plasterers, brick laying, cabinet making, plant operators, demolition workers, and landscape construction.

MBV reports there is an extraordinary and incredibly varied number of more than 200 job options across their industry.

Ms Lihou said the industry was also keen to encourage mature-age entrants into the industry, stressing that people can move into the building and construction sector from a broad variety of former career paths.

“An great example of this is Skye Jeschonek-Pride, now 32 years old and was working in real estate before she decided to pursue a career as a carpentry apprentice and last year was named one of the State Apprentices of the Year.”

Ms Jeschonek-Pride said she had been working in real estate before travelling to Canada and lived there for two years and eventually found herself working as a snowcat operator on the ski fields.

“My dad, brother and grandfather have all been involved in building and when I came back to Australia, the thought of real estate just didn’t excite me, so at 26 years old, I signed up for a carpentry apprenticeship and really love it.”

Ms Lihou said women presently made up only 2.5 per cent of the Victorian building and construction workforce, with more coming to slowly appreciate the opportunities available and achieving great success on and off the work site.

“There are so many exciting opportunities in our industry if only we had the people to help us make it happen.

“We’re really urging any young person contemplating their future – or anyone looking for a potential change of career – to at least consider the building and construction industry, they may be surprised at what they find!”