Bricklayers and carpenters are in the shortest supply amongst construction tradespeople in Victoria as building industry confidence in that state soars to four year highs, the latest survey has found.

Published by the Master Builders Association of Victoria (MBAV), the December Quarter Sentiment Survey revealed that whilst overall levels of difficulty in sourcing subcontractors and employees remained low, it had risen notably since a trough around the start of last year.

It showed that bricklayers and were the most difficult forms of tradespeople to source followed by foremen/supervisors, site managers, carpenters and project managers (see chart).

Demand was also improving in roof tiling, labouring, concreting, steel fixing and building consulting, the survey showed.

MBAV Chief Executive Radley de Silva said the latest research revealed areas where gaps were likely to occur as building activity picks up, and that prospective apprentices should seriously think about bricklaying and carpentry as areas of opportunity.

“The need for quality tradespeople and building workers will rise as building and construction activity increases so it makes sense that those starting their training should look to fill these skill gaps” de Silva said in a statement.

“Builders are telling us that bricklayers, carpenters and foreman are the most difficult staff to recruit so we would encourage new apprentices to look for their career opportunities in those fields.”

The survey also showed builder expectations regarding industry prospects had shot up to four year highs whilst those regarding their own prospects had also improved, albeit with readings for current profitability, volume of work on books and employment intentions remaining in negative territory.

de Silva said such sentiment boded well for the industry’s near term outlook, and reflected an improving property market as well as approaching of construction starts for major infrastructure projects such as the first stage of the East West Link.

 “Having experienced the toughest industry conditions in more than a decade, our industry stands ready to make the most of improving economic conditions” de Silva said.

Such sentiments are generally shared among other commentators and forecasters.

In its most recent forecasts, for example, Australian Construction Industry Forum says that whilst it expects the overall dollar value of construction work done thoughout the state to contract in 2013/14 for the second consecutive year as work on electricity projects and multi-residential construction drops back, it subsequently expects activity to grow by almost ten percent over the three years thereon after as detached housing volumes pick up and work on the East West Link drives increasing levels of activity on road construction.

The survey included responses from 115 builders in Victoria. Responses were also received from 258 builders from other states as Master Builders sought to show comparisons between responses from builders in Victoria and their counterparts in other states for some questions.