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Budgeting for more homes

The announcement in this week's Budget of $90.6 million to boost the number of skilled workers for the housing sector has been broadly applauded by the housing industry.

The package includes measures to help attract more apprentices into the industry, 20,000 fee-free TAFE places, streamlining the visa program for in-demand trades and an education and awareness program to assist participants navigate the complex process to be able to work on Australian building sites.

Housing Industry Association (HIA) Managing Director Jocelyn Martin welcomed the Federal Government's commitment to a target of building 1.2 million homes over the next five years, saying that one of the key issues in building these much-needed homes is having an adequate workforce.

Martin also stressed the importance of a continuation of financial incentives for employers to take on an apprentice.

"Without an employer, there is no apprentice and the financial incentives currently in place that have encouraged the employment of an apprentice and improve retention have proved invaluable to helping the construction industry to access more workers", she said.

Property Council Chief Executive Mike Zorbas welcomed the commitments while noting that questions remain about the existing Australian workforce's capacity to deliver on the pipeline of housing needed.

"We must be realistic about the workforce required to deliver these future homes", Zorbas said.

"While the extra skills and training funding in the Budget announced earlier this week is welcome, we need more than training alone to turn out the construction workforce Australia requires at the speed we need.

"With only 1.8 per cent of migrants coming into the country over the past twenty years focused on construction work, we need to ensure we boost the share who will build our future homes.

"Hitting the housing targets now hinges on concerted federal, state and industry partnership on rezoning, faster approvals, more skilled workers and last mile infrastructure," he concluded.

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