NSW drained of skilled plumbers
New South Wales is experiencing a worsening shortage of qualified plumbers to fill positions across the state, particularly in regional areas. According to the Department of Employment’s Skills Shortage List, Australia, the increasing demand for skilled tradespeople is not being met. This is great news for people considering a plumbing apprenticeship because they will enter a favourable market.
One of the reasons employers have found it difficult to fill plumbing positions is a lack of properly qualified workers, according to a report from the Department of Employment released this year. The report found that about 40 per cent of employers seeking general plumbers were unable to fill their vacancies. The main reasons cited by employers for applications being unsuitable were, in order of frequency: a lack of the needed experience or skills; not being trade-qualified through completing formal training and assessment; and not having qualifications that are recognised in Australia.
This highlights the vital need for aspiring plumbers to undertake and complete training, certification and education. Credible education providers offer full qualifications to work in Australia and have strong industry relationships to ensure apprentices are exposed to challenging, real-life work, making them employable upon completion of their studies. The Northern Sydney Institute offers a number of nationally-recognised plumbing courses and can help aspiring plumbers complete their formal training apprentice qualifications that will assist them to begin their careers in NSW, across Australia and in more than 20 other countries.
Not only are qualified plumbers more likely to find employment than those without licences or certification to work in Australia, they can also potentially earn a six-figure salary. This applies particularly to plumbers who are prepared to do maintenance and out-of-hours jobs. The average salary for a plumber in Australia is $70,000 making it a financially rewarding option, particularly for school leavers. The trade’s increasing demand and job security is also attractive for mature age apprentices who can enjoy flexible working hours and a chance to earn money whilst learning on the job.
Another attractive benefit of the trade is its ability to take an apprentice’s career in so many directions. There is a perception that being a plumber is predominantly about dealing with bathrooms, but in reality this is just one aspect of a plumber’s job. There are many career paths for plumbers such as mechanical services specialists and particularly roof plumbers.
At Northern Sydney Institute, students are exposed to four specialist streams that let them choose careers in water, sanitation, drainage and gas services. An ability to specialise and adapt is important in the plumbing industry as employer demands and pay scales change over time. Presently, there is a shortage of maintenance plumbers and roof plumbers, particularly in regional NSW, which means specialist plumbers are enjoying higher salaries and the ability to choose between jobs.
As the demand for plumbers in NSW increases, so does the need for qualifications and training. It is important that people interested in studying plumbing and becoming apprentices choose reputable institutions to ensure that they are highly employable and fully qualified and or licensed.
This article was written by Rodney Jackson, Faculty Manager, Construction Trades, Northern Sydney Institute
 Skills Shortage List, Australia. Department of Employment Published 27th Feb 2015.