Unemployment in Australia has teetered at 50 years lows for about a year now. Participation rates have been at or near record highs for the same period. This is good news. As much as people may complain of the drudgery, for most of us productive, meaningful work as part of a balanced lifestyle is key to human flourishing.
Australia’s unemployment rate has sat at low levels for a very long time, though the labour market was not exceptionally tight, and it was reasonably difficult for people to change jobs or get a big pay rise without gaining significant experience. COVID-19 stimulus has, in the medium term set off a bit of an economic boom, which coupled with a virtual end to migration for two and a half years has led to a labour shortage no one could have possibly predicted.
What does this mean for strata? A whole lot.
Strata has suffered a labour shortage since time immemorial (or at least since strata title as a concept existed in the early 1960’s).
Strata has pleasingly (or unfortunately depending on your worldview) grown solidly since inception, but over the past twenty years it has quadrupled in size. This has obviously meant the growth in need for strata managers has outpaced the growth in population, and so here we find ourselves. Pundits also suggest the projections are for this growth to be dwarfed by the next decade’s growth.
The 2023 Strata Management Benchmarking Report (“the Report”) published by our Platinum Partners Macquarie Bank showed just how the interconnected problems of the chronic deficit of good quality strata managers, the growth of lots and the overarching labour shortage are interacting to create a “perfect storm” for our industry.
According to the Report, one full-time employee is needed for every 365 lots built. Given about 70,000 (and growing) lots are built across the country annually, the nation (assuming no retirements or career changes) needs about 200 new skilled managers every year. The report also indicates that there is about a one-third attrition rate amongst firms. You can see where we are going with this… We need to attract and retain many more talented individuals who are suited to a career in strata management than we are currently.
How do we do this? Well, there has to be a multifaceted approach and we also need to recognise that there isn’t one silver bullet on this issue. When we seek to attract talent, we need to aim at quality career changers, university graduates and school leavers. There are people in all these cohorts who would no doubt make great strata managers and as a peak body we will seek to unearth them all.
What’s clear is that we cannot wait for the issue to solve itself before the consequences become disastrous. Strata managers may be overworked and burnt out now, I cannot imagine the pressure facing them in managing twice as many lots!
As an organisation which represents the sector broadly, it is incumbent on SCA (Qld) to work with all stakeholders in industry development - our member businesses, Government and the education and training sector – and quite frankly anyone else we need to; to make sure that this chronic problem has an end in sight.
Plus, strata management is an exciting, emerging professional sector and a wonderful career opportunity for many.
We are already moving behind the scenes on workforce planning and talking openly about the need to professionalise and regulate the sector - a move we hope will make it more attractive to ambitious and energetic people looking for a professional career. In terms of creating appropriate training and learning pathways, we believe there is a lot which can be done, but we are hopeful that we can create a broad and sustainable pathway which will be welcomed by all and ensure businesses have a steady flow of well-trained staff.