Shotcreter Chris McKervey lines tunnels with concrete spray and gets paid upwards of $200K a year.
Shotcreter Chris McKervey lines tunnels with concrete spray and gets paid upwards of $200K a year. News Corp Australia

$200,000 job goes begging, snapped up by foreign workers

INTERSTATE and foreign workers are pilfering high paying jobs on Sydney's construction sites because there's not enough homegrown tradies to handle the massive road and rail building boom.

That's the view of Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who's warned projects wrapped up in the state's planned $73.3 billion of infrastructure spending over the next four years could be jeopardised by the chronic skills shortage.

"There's a threat if we don't build the workforce, we won't get some of these projects off the ground," Mr Barilaro said.

The former chippie is hellbent on smashing the stigma vocational education and training (VET) is the poor cousin to university academia.

Nine out of 10 occupations predicted to have the greatest jobs growth in the next five years are within the vocational sector, according to a Skilling Australia Foundation report.

Mr Barilaro was at the site of the future NorthConnex tunnel on Friday morning, lauding newly certified specialist concreters required to build a nine kilometre tunnel linking the M1 Pacific Motorway at Wahroonga to the Hills M2 Motorway at West Pennant Hills.

One of the tradesmen being recognised was shotcreter Chris McKervey, 37, whose job it is to line the tunnel with concrete spray "to stop rock falling down and hitting cars when they're driving through".

Experienced shotcreters earn $212,000 a year and yet they're in short supply.

So much so Mr McKervey, who's been working underground for 13 years, has been drafted to work in tunnels from Lane Cove to Barrow Island off the Pilbara coast of Western Australia.

NorthConnex will be the longest road tunnel project in Australia.

News Corp Australia


BRIGHTEN UP: Upbeat news from around the region

Premium Content BRIGHTEN UP: Upbeat news from around the region

Here are just some of the things that happened this week that made us smile.

WHAT’S NEXT: BSL outlines plans for Millaquin upgrades

Premium Content WHAT’S NEXT: BSL outlines plans for Millaquin upgrades

The company will be looking at investing in a new way to get cane across the...

KEEN: A bird to add to your list for citizen science project

Premium Content KEEN: A bird to add to your list for citizen science project

Learn more about the nankeen night heron and how to spot one during the Aussie...