Gladstone's building industry lull halts apprenticeship intake

FEWER apprentices are picking up the tools to build and renovate homes in Gladstone as the sector suffers from falling land valuations.

Some Gladstone builders have stopped hiring apprentices because of a lack of work in Gladstone.

Ian Marxsen, owner of 11-year-old business IM Builders, said the challenge was potential renovations and builds were falling by the wayside because of the struggle to secure bank loans.

"The main problem is it's just so slow at the moment and the banks aren't giving loans (for home renovations) because valuations have plummeted," he said.

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In the most recent land valuations for the region there was a decrease of 23.4%, which takes the average land value to $125,662 for 21,800 properties, according to the Gladstone Regional Council.

Mr Marxsen's only apprentice become a tradesman in December and there wasn't enough work to keep him on.

The Gladstone born man believes the only solution to the building-lull was for confidence to return to the region.

With one in five of Gladstone's homes empty, according to the Census 2016 data, he said any new housing development would only put more pressure on land valuations.

He said the State Government's job creation effort, the Back to Work program which offers up to $20,000 for employers hiring new workers, wasn't enough for him to hire an apprentice.

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"You can't put someone on when there's no work," he said. Being "smart" during Gladstone's last boom is the reason Mr Marxsen has kept afloat while relying on small renovations for the past six months.

Mr Marxsen, who finished his carpentry apprenticeship with GAGAL in the '90s, works closely with other qualified builders, calling on their help when he has a job - and likewise when they pick up work.

"I've seen the ups and downs of Gladstone...But you could always still keep your apprentices on because there was still little bits of work."

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