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Labour shortage hits Alpine Truss

Hayden Clark and Jess Dieckmann hard at work at Alpine Truss. Photo: Nick Richards

A massive industry labour shortage in the region has hit a local business hard with Alpine Truss in Wangaratta willing to put on up to 30 good workers but they can‘t fill the positions. Source: Wangaratta Chronicle

The business hasn‘t been busier in its 20 years of operation, even with the current timber shortage, and this is with it only running at less than 80 per cent because there isn‘t enough capacity to fill the roles.

George Prothero, Alpine Truss managing director, said if they can‘t find labour they will have to scale the business back because it‘s not viable or sustainable to run the business with reduced staffing numbers.

“We employ 140 people now, and I could do with 20–30 good people straight away, but trying to find them locally has been a waste of time because people just don‘t want the work,“ Mr Prothero said.

“The job entails the manufacturing of frames and trusses and it‘s not too difficult because most of it is computerised now and the manual labour is not as intensive as it used to be.

“There is on the job training, supply of a uniform, safety boots, we pay them well above award, offer employees incentives twice a year as a bonus, and there are workplace events as well.

“We try to look after our staff as much as we can.“

Alpine Truss‘ operation has been kept afloat by a core group of long–term workers at the worksite in a current situation that has several people locally trying out for a day, but then they don‘t come back.

Mr Prothero said Alpine Truss is not the only industry in town suffering and he has contacted Wangaratta council and Tim McCurdy to see if there are any solutions.

“Eventually everyone is going to have to look at their operations and scale them back to fit the workforce that they can secure,“ he said.

A housing shortage in Wangaratta has certainly impacted many industries in the attraction of workers from outside the region as accommodation options are limited.

Another factor is the international borders which have been closed because Mr Prothero has found that in the past these are the people who want to work in the industry.

Council has in recent times run a campaign to promote the rural city, however, with the ongoing pandemic, including border closures, this has been hampered.

The local housing shortage also doesn‘t seem like it will be resolved any time soon, especially with the North Wangaratta treatment plant nearing capacity in the next 18 months, thus stalling permit approvals and new homes being built.