Well over a year ago, I raised the issue of short courses to become a builder with the Victorian Government and its agencies including the Victorian Building Authority (VBA).
The industry concerns expressed appear to have been ignored as we still have a multitude of training organisations whose web sites home pages are dominated by the offer to become a builder in a very short period of time. These offers usually promise the training for a handful of dollars, which appears to be somewhere under $2,000.
The same concerns have recently been raised in New South Wales in relation to short courses, and the ability of those who take them to hold such a licence and then deliver a product to support a responsible industry.
We have no doubt there is a very legitimate role for these training organisations as they are supported by governments and offer services that can be very helpful to many different professions.
The concerns the building industry hold are based on the traditional apprenticeship ideals whereby many mum and dad builders apprentice sons or daughters into the industry over a period of four years, which sometimes results in these apprentices carrying on the family business. It is generally felt such an apprenticeship delivers what may be termed a well-qualified builder to our industry.
Apprenticeship numbers have been in an acute decline since the introduction of the Last Resort warranty insurance regime as builders have been subject to an annual review of their operations. This in effect only allows them annual tenure in their industry which in turn questions the viability a four-year apprenticeship.
Furthermore, the vast majority of small builders question the sustainability and or longevity of our industry to support the small builder as the large estate builders have now established their suburban up-market entities and targeted the traditional domain of the small builder. The result is that it is impossible for the small builder to compete in terms of buying power and sheer volume.
It has also become obvious that some believe the training organisations can deliver a licence in a much shorter time frame than the traditional apprenticeship regime.
We fail to understand and cannot grasp the ideals that the person who pays a few dollars over a period of 28 days and then achieves a building licence is competing with builders with years of experience and or the apprentice who has taken four years of practical work plus schooling to achieve the same outcome.
It is simply not a level playing field and detrimental to a responsible industry.
Governments of both persuasions have in recent years agreed there are many serious issues facing our industry, and that this is one that requires their attention. Our concerns in this area are yet to resonate, however, as are all the other issues the wider industry faces.
We believe our industry deserves far better and a greater focus by Government on the issues we have been presenting for such a long time.