417 Visa And Construction Workforce Gaps

417 Visa And Construction Workforce Gaps
June 6, 2024 Construction People

In February 2024, the construction industry unemployment rate in Queensland was reported to be around 3.8%, which is slightly below the state’s general unemployment rate of about 4.2%.​ The low unemployment rate for construction reflects strong demand in the sector.

417 visa construction workforce gaps

BUT, it’s no secret that Queensland is in the midst of a housing crisis spurred by increasing construction pricing, supply and labour / skills shortages rendering many projects unviable. The Master Builders Association says apartment starts have fallen to the lowest level in over ten years. Alongside, there is a highly competitive private rental market and around 31,000 households on the social housing register.

More planning is needed as interstate migration is higher than forecast, in addition to people not leaving Queensland. Queensland Treasury has predicted that Queensland’s population could reach 6 million people by 2027.

And the upcoming 2032 Olympic Games and record spending on health infrastructure over the next ten years will only increase housing demand which is already at capacity.

Leveraging 417 Visa Holders

As such, 417 visa holders could be an effective tool in addressing the labour shortage in the Queensland construction industry. The 417 visa, also known as the Working Holiday visa, allows young people aged 18 to 30  (or 35 for some countries) to work and holiday in Australia for up to a year.

Here are several ways 417 visa holders can help fill the labour gap:

Flexibility and Availability

417 visa holders often seek temporary and casual employment, which aligns well with the fluctuating demand in the construction industry. They can fill short-term gaps caused by seasonal variations, project-specific labour needs, or unexpected shortages.

Diverse Skill Sets

Many 417 visa holders come with diverse backgrounds and skill sets, including trade skills, engineering, and project management experience. This diversity can help meet the specific demands of different construction projects.

Easing Labour Shortage in More Remote Areas

Construction projects in remote or regional areas often struggle to attract local workers. The 417 visa encourages holders to work in these areas by offering an extension of the visa for a second or third year if they undertake specified work in regional Australia. This incentive can help direct labour to where it is most needed.

Training and Upskilling

Employers can provide on-the-job training to 417 visa holders, enhancing their skills and making them more valuable to the industry. This can be a cost-effective way to build a skilled workforce without long-term commitments.

Supporting Large-Scale Projects

Large infrastructure projects often require a surge in the labour force, which can be supplemented by 417 visa holders. Their contribution can help ensure these projects stay on schedule and within budget.

Reduced Recruitment Pressure

By hiring 417 visa holders, construction companies can reduce the pressure on local recruitment and allow more time to search for permanent staff. This can lead to more strategic hiring practices and better long-term workforce planning.

Follow own career path

Practical Implementation Strategies

Outreach programs: Construction companies can create outreach programs specifically targeting 417 visa holders through online job boards, recruitment agencies, and social media platforms.

Incentives and benefits: Offering competitive wages, flexible working conditions, and additional benefits can attract 417 visa holders to the construction sector.

Collaborations with agencies: Partnering with agencies that specialise in placing working holidaymakers can streamline the hiring process.


Integrating more 417 visa holders into the construction workforce in Queensland can help address labour and housing shortages, support project timelines, and enhance the overall skill set within the industry. By strategically employing these workers, construction companies can mitigate this impact and ensure continued growth and development in the sector.

For more detailed information and guidelines on 417 visa holders, visit the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website.

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