Wagga tradies are already under the pump as service demand increases across the state, however, opportunities are arising for apprentices and younger workers.
In a 2017 report on skill shortages across NSW, the Australian Bureau of Statistics listed plumbers and electricians among the most sought-after professions in regional areas.
Cabinetmakers, mechanics, panelbeaters, bricklayers, painters and plasterers were also listed as being in state-wide demand.
In Wagga, TEC Solution’s Greg Lawson has been swamped with calls since late last year and believes tradesmen have a particularly busy time ahead.
“Everyone in the industry has been extra busy for the past six months,” he said.
“We’re not really sure why but a few blokes have moved which took a few tradies away from the local supply here in Wagga.”
Mr Lawson suggest increases in permanent mining job opportunities had attracted interest from Wagga tradesmen, to the detriment of local skills.
Human resources agency DFP Recruitment supported this, reporting permanent job vacancies in mining increased by 44.5 per cent during 2017 following a 4.4 per cent improvement in December.
“I know a few blokes have headed off to the mines so there’s spots to fill,” he said.
Mr Lawson currently has 36 workers under his employ, including apprentices Po Tiwangce and Jackson Kerr, and wants to see more people taking up trades.
“There’s plenty of opportunity in this area and the young blokes coming through are pretty talented,” he said.
“Po’s really applied himself with his studies at TAFE and has done well since coming in.”
Jackson, 16, has been working as an electrical apprentice since October and says he’ll likely stay in Wagga for some time.
“It’s good here and I’ll probably stick around for a bit,” he said.
Though the retention of apprentice tradesmen is key, the ABS report highlights a regional skill shortage in other professional areas.
Optometrists and enrolled nurses are listed as being in high demand across NSW regional centres.
Shortages across the food industry have also been recorded, with the ABS report noting butchers, smallgoods makers and chefs as being in high demand.