When Monique Juratovac swapped her make up brushes and hairdryer for a brickie’s trowel three and a half years ago, she had no idea she would find herself in the middle of a tradie drought.
This week, the Housing Industry Association reported that Australia is in the midst of a building bonanza, with more than 100,000 homes under construction. But the high demand and COVID related issues have meant that the worker shortage is at its worst since records began.
The biggest demand is for bricklayers, carpenters and roof tilers.
For 23-year-old Ms Juratovac, who started her own business MJ Bricklaying last week, it’s meant there’s plenty of work on the ground.
“I have had quite a few people message me to do private jobs,” she said. “I have always done more housing (than commercial sites) and that’s what I prefer. But I’ll always help out people close to me.”
Perth-based Ms Juratovac became a bricklayer after qualifying as a hairdresser and then a make up artist before making the switch to the building site.
“I left school quite young after being bullied and hairdressing was the avenue most girls went down – my older sister was a hairdresser,” she said. “I did three years of study but I wasn’t happy so I did a Certificate III in make-up. But that didn’t help. I needed a change.”
After investigating a number of trades, and a day’s trial on a building site, she was hooked.
“I was talking to mum about it and she said to give it a go. I did a day’s free trial on site and I fell in love with it.
“I love the whole atmosphere. I don’t have to do my make up to go to work, I can just roll out of bed. I get along with the boys so well – we have banter and it doesn’t even feel like work some days.”
Ms Juratovac (pictured below) also tested her skills against the best in her region.
“I won the WorldSkills Regional Bricklaying Competition in 2019,” she said. “I didn’t expect to win it. I was prepared for the worst but they said I’d won. Then they said I was the first woman to win and I started to cry.”
She has also won Apprentice of the Year – twice.
General manager international marketing for Brickworks, Brett Ward, said Western Australia, where Ms Juratovac works, is suffering the longest waits for bricklayers, with delays of up to 12 weeks, but all states are under the pump. Brickworks is working with the Australian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation to attract more apprentices into the industry.
“There are apprenticeships available – we have 30 available in WA right now,” he said. “It’s a major campaign to align the apprenticeship scheme with the major builders. It’s something we are working on all the time but we are competing against tech based jobs. Bricklaying is not seen to be as cool but you can run your own jobs and be your own boss.”
As long as you enjoy physical work, Ms Juratovac says bricklaying is a satisfying – and in demand – career. And these days, she’s calling the shots on site.
“It feels good. It’s scary and stressful but once you get your head around it, it’s good,” she said. “People are listening to me a lot more. Before they’d ask one of the boys but now that I am paying the wages, they’re listening to me.”
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There’s more to building substantial savings than putting away what you can after paying your bills
Whether you’re starting your wealth creation journey in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s or beyond, the core principles remain consistent. Create more income, manage your savings, and invest intelligently.
We look at the best wealth creation strategies depending on which decade you’re in right now.
In your 20s
The key to wealth creation is to start early. So if you’re reading this and you’re in your 20s, you’re well ahead of the game.
Accept that the greatest investment you can make is in yourself and your ability to earn an income.
“If you want to build wealth in Australia, you need to have a plan to be earning more than $100,000 per annum either now or within the next five years,” financial planner Chris Carlin says. “Most finance experts focus on ways to reduce your expenses, which is important, but for sustainable long-term wealth creation, we believe that you should be focusing on ways to increase your income rather than just focus on reducing your expenses.
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“If you need to change careers, study, start a business or ask for a pay rise, do whatever it takes to get your income above that level while you’ve got time on your side. Next step is to buy a house, because the sooner you get your foot in the door of the property market, the easier it will be for you to build wealth over the long term.”
Bear in mind that your first home doesn’t need to be your forever home. Think of it as your foot in the door to build wealth.
“If you’re accessing a first home buyers grant, you only need to live in it for 12 months and then you can consider converting it into an investment property or selling it,” Carlin says.
In your 30s
This is the time in life to establish a regular investment strategy. Consider long-term investments that you can lock up for five to 10 years. You can take on more risk at this time of your life, which can generate higher returns.
Set your priorities for life, and don’t take on more debt than you can afford to pay back.
Also, keep track of expenses and income with budget planners — a great habit to get into now.
There are many other things you should be considering too, such as topping up your super above the Super Guarantee and reviewing your personal insurance and investments.
In your 40s
This can be an expensive time of life, particularly if you’re supporting a family. But you’re probably in a more stable financial position by now, giving you a good springboard into investments such as a diversified portfolio of shares.
Investing in property is the best option at this age, whether it’s the family home or an additional property that can be utilised for an Airbnb. Also, make sure you rein in your debt. A bank loan for a mortgage is one thing, but debt on credit cards is hard to justify by this stage of your life.
Invest in your retirement by topping up your superannuation. Even an additional $50 a month will benefit from the wonders of compound interest.
Generally speaking, shares outperform other investments over the longer term. And if you invest in companies that pay dividends, you’ll benefit from being paid part of the company’s profits, generally twice a year. While dividends are less common in a downturn like we’re having now, they are likely to increase once company profits recover.
In your 50s (and beyond)
If you’re in your 50s or older, traditional financial planning tends to encourage less aggressive asset classes as people near retirement.
If you’re in a low asset position due to divorce and having to start again or you’ve missed the real estate boom and are still renting, the main focus should be on controlling spending and pumping money into super and savings and then investing aggressively, advises financial adviser and money coach Max Phelps.
“Property investing is either an option through super, or outside of super if the deposit can be raised,” he says. “Outside of super, properties with scope to improve, extend or subdivide will help build capital faster than normal market growth, to help catch up.”
Share investing could also be an option, with particular focus on high growth funds, such as international securities.
“Controlling spending at a level just above the aged pension should be a key focus, otherwise it’ll be a big step down when you finally stop work. Use a good budgeting and planning app,” Phelps says.
However, if you own your own home, and have a standard super balance, focus on the home and perhaps look at downsizing opportunities in the future.
“Maximising super contributions is likely to be beneficial to get the tax savings, potentially using a transition to retirement strategy,” he says. “For those looking for a sea or tree change, we would always recommend keeping the family home until a year or two after moving to a new area to make sure it really suits.
“For those wanting to stay in the same home forever, releasing equity to buy a couple of high yielding investment properties could be a good option, with the time to pay down the mortgages and keep them for additional income for retirement,” Phelps says.
If your own home is paid off and you have a high super balance and a strong asset position, the focus will likely be on asset protection and less risky asset allocation for investments, he says.
Whatever age you are, consider getting help now. The right financial advice early can set you on the right track.
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