Building industry groups in Australia have slammed a decision by the Fair Work Commission to hike first and second year pay rates for apprentices in construction trades by an average of 20 per cent.

Opponents of the wage hike say the move will impose undue costs on builders and discourage builders and other employers from taking on apprentices at a time of concern regarding a looming shortage of skilled tradespeople toward the middle of the decade. Unions, however, have welcomed the move, referring to…