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Tradie boss begs 'entitled' young Aussies to ditch uni and go into construction : 'Get your hands dirty'

Paul Bucciarelli said the industry is desperate for workers.

A manufacturing boss is pleading with young Aussies to get into a trade to save businesses like his. Paul Bucciarelli runs the sandblasting and powder coating business Stripco and he said too many high school graduates are choosing to go to university because they feel they have to, rather than explore other options.

A large portion of his Sydney company's workforce is edging towards retirement and there aren't enough young people coming in to replace them. A veteran builder told Yahoo Finance this is happening across the industry and it's hurtling towards total collapse if something isn't done soon.

"The problem is, there's a stigma in Australia with young people about taking on jobs, rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty," Bucciarelli told to A Current Affair.

Manufacturing boss Paul Bucciarelli next to young workers
Manufacturing boss Paul Bucciarelli said not enough people are coming out of high school and picking the construction industry as a career. (Source: A Current Affair/Getty)

Is your business struggling due to a lack of younger workers? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

"We are in dire straits in this country when it comes to manufacturing, and we need the new generation to come forward...who will appreciate what we have and what we need in this country.

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"The hard work, the hard yakka and not feel like there's a stigma behind doing that sort of work."

Younger generation is 'entitled' but it's not their fault

The boss pointed the finger a range of culprits for producing a generation of young workers who are solely focused on high wages, a work-life balance and the ability to work from home.

This mentality, Bucciarelli said, has led to many shunning the construction industry as a life-long career.

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"Society, government, [and] education institutions have educated them in that way and pushed them in that direction to feel like they're entitled," he said.

"And it's not necessarily their fault. Even as parents we're to blame by pushing them to educate themselves regardless of whether they can or can't."

Young Aussies have recently hit out about what they consider to be ridiculous salaries for entry-level jobs. While the construction industry might not be for people who don't like to be outside or use elbow grease on the daily, it can pay off if you do it right.

Get your kids into a trade

Recruitment expert Graham Wynn told Yahoo Finance trades are a strong path to becoming your own boss.

“I tell any parents, ‘Get your kids into a trade’. That's where the money is,” Wynn said.

"A lot of these guys start their own businesses further down the track and, by the time they are 50, they are retired."

Veteran builder Scott Challen has warned that if not enough people heed that advice, then the future of the Australian construction industry, which is already "hanging on by its fingernails", looks "very bleak".

There have been plenty of construction companies that have gone bust over the last few months, with some having debts in the tens of millions of dollars.

Challen, who's the CEO of building and home-improvement company The QHI Group, told Yahoo Finance there needs to be a big shift soon.

“There's only 238,000 apprentices in the whole country and we lost 50,000 in 12 months,” he said.

“That's a national disaster. We're only seeing the tip of the iceberg right now. This is the Titanic and we are on a collision course … the future is bleak, really bleak.”

Australia is in the midst of a housing supply shortage, which is partly causing the rental crisis plaguing tenants across much of the country.

The government has a plan to build 1.2 million homes in the next decade, however Challen said the lack of tradies available to do the job, mixed with the large amount of red tape and cost of the supplies, is all coalescing to delay that vision.

In 2023, work commenced on just 163,836 new homes, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That's 6.4 per cent less than the year before and the lowest annual reading since 2012.

Industries like Bucciarelli's and Challen's are crying out for workers to come in, pull up their sleeves and keep Australia moving.

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