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What Tradie Work Will Look Like in 2050

What Tradie Work Will Look Like in 2050

We don't want to alarm you, but... by 2050, tradies will wield AI-powered tools.

Eco-friendly innovations like solar-powered equipment will dominate job sites, and digital job platforms will plan your day for you, automating your route from one job to the next.

Oh, and robots will assist in mundane tasks, allowing tradespeople like you to focus on complex work that can’t be replaced by machine learning.

Curious? Let’s dive in.

The Evolution of Tradie Work

Traditionally, tradies have been known for their skilled craftsmanship in various fields such as construction, plumbing, electrical work, and more.

However, the advent of technology, coupled with a growing emphasis on sustainability and innovation, has initiated a significant shift.

According to the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) report on 'Future Skilling our Workforce', integrating digital tools and automation is already reshaping how tradies approach their tasks, increasing efficiency and precision.

Key Aspects Shaping Tradie Work in 2050

  • Technological Advancements
  • Sustainability
  • Skills Diversification
  • Collaboration

By 2050, tradies will be at the forefront of a revolution in technology and sustainability.

Their approach will blend the latest AI and IoT tools with a deep respect for the environment, using renewable materials and energy-efficient practices.

This harmonious blend of innovation and earth-consciousness will redefine their work and contribute positively to the world around them.

In this future, continuous learning and adaptability will be key. Tradies will collaborate closely with architects, engineers, and data analysts, fostering community and shared purpose in every project.

This collaborative spirit, coupled with a commitment to sustainability and technological advancement, will define the tradie of 2050 as a guardian of both craftsmanship and the environment. 

The Perpetual Need for Manual Labour and Practical Work

The foundation of tradie work is built upon the skilled use of hands and tools to create, repair, and maintain the physical infrastructure that sustains our society.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), as of 2020, more than 1.2 million Australians were employed in construction and related trades. This demonstrates the enduring demand for hands-on expertise in various sectors, including construction, plumbing, and electrical work.

Examples of tasks that will continue to require a human touch:

  • Fine craftsmanship: Craftsmanship remains irreplaceable, often the hallmark of trade work. Meticulous carpentry, intricate tilework, and delicate plumbing installations can only be mastered through human expertise.
  • Complex problem diagnosis: While machines and sensors can assist in identifying issues, the ability to diagnose complex problems in real-world scenarios is unique to experienced tradies. For instance, a plumber must assess the source of a hidden leak, considering multiple variables that technology alone may not decipher.

Problem-Solving in the Field

Beyond manual labour, tradies are renowned for their problem-solving prowess. The practical application of critical thinking and on-the-spot decision-making is indispensable.

The Harvard Business Review's report on 'The Rise of the Smart Factory' emphasises the role of skilled human operators in addressing unforeseen challenges and ensuring the smooth operation of automated systems. In traditional work, this translates into adapting and overcoming unexpected obstacles.

Scenarios showcasing the need for on-the-spot decision-making:

  • Electrical emergencies: Electricians often encounter unforeseen issues when rewiring or repairing electrical systems. Quick thinking is crucial to ensure safety and maintain the project's integrity.
  • Construction changes: On construction sites, plans can change due to unforeseen circumstances or client preferences. Tradies must adapt, making real-time decisions to ensure the project's success.

Tradie work in 2050 will retain its essence, anchored in manual labour, practical skills, and the ability to solve problems quickly.

While technology will continue to evolve, the human touch in tradie work will remain irreplaceable, ensuring that future buildings and infrastructure are functional, safe, and expertly crafted.

1. Technological Advancements in Tradie Work

As we journey into the future of trade work in 2050, it's impossible to ignore the transformative impact of technology.

Technological advancements are reshaping how tradies operate, enhancing efficiency, and reducing errors in various domains.

  • Integration of Tech Gadgets

    Exploration of upcoming tech gadgets and their applications:

    • GPS Technology: Integrating GPS technology into tradie work streamlines navigation and logistics. Smartphones equipped with GPS enable tradies to plan routes efficiently, locate job sites, and avoid traffic congestion.
    • Wearable Smartwatches: Wearable devices are becoming indispensable tools. Smartwatches, equipped with vital apps, provide tradies with real-time information, including weather updates, job schedules, and even health metrics, to ensure they stay safe and productive.
    • Machine Learning and AI: Machine learning algorithms are employed for predictive maintenance. Tools and machines can alert tradies when they require servicing or repairs, reducing downtime and costly breakdowns.
    • Smart Tech for Problem Analysis: Tradies are adopting smart devices to analyse problems. Thermal imaging cameras, for example, help electricians identify overheating circuits and potential fire hazards.
    • Scanning Devices for Q&A: Portable 3D scanning devices are aiding tradies in capturing accurate measurements of spaces, enabling precise planning and design.
    • Virtual Chatbots for Problem Detection and Solutions: Virtual chatbots can assist tradies in diagnosing common issues and recommending solutions, making problem-solving more efficient.
    • Aerial Monitoring with Drones: Drones equipped with cameras are revolutionising site inspections and aerial surveys. They provide tradies with a bird's-eye view of their projects, aiding in monitoring progress and identifying potential issues.
  • Impact on Task Efficiency and Error Reduction

    The incorporation of these tech gadgets is translating into tangible benefits for tradies:

    • Enhanced Efficiency: Tradies equipped with tech gadgets can complete tasks more swiftly. GPS navigation, for instance, reduces travel time, enabling them to dedicate more time to actual work.
    • Error Reduction: Technology assists in error reduction. Machine learning algorithms can predict equipment failures before they occur, minimising costly mistakes and downtime.
  • Overseeing and Maintenance of Machines

    While technology advances rapidly, tradies will continue to play a pivotal role in overseeing and maintaining machinery. For example:

    • Mining: In the mining industry, tradies are essential for maintaining complex machinery used in excavation and transportation, ensuring safety and efficiency.
    • Metal Fabrication: Tradies in metal fabrication ensure that precision machines in shaping and welding metal components function optimally.
    • Agriculture Production, e.g., Egg Farming: In the agriculture sector, such as egg farming, tradies oversee the maintenance of machinery responsible for egg collection, sorting, and packaging, ensuring a consistent supply chain.

While technology transforms traditional work, the human touch remains crucial.

Tradies are now equipped with various tech gadgets that enhance efficiency and reduce errors. However, their role in overseeing and maintaining machines in multiple industries continues to be vital, ensuring the smooth operation of critical processes.

Embracing technology while preserving their traditional skills, tradies are poised for an exciting and productive future in 2050.

2. Mental Health Awareness in the Trade Industry

As we explore the future of trade work in 2050, it's crucial to address a topic that has gained prominence in recent years – mental health awareness.

Tradies of the Gen Z generation, who will be approximately 45 years old in 2050, bring a fresh perspective to this critical issue.

  • Gen Z Apprentices Will be 45 in 2050

    Discussion on Gen Z's perspective on mental health:

    Gen Z, born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, is growing up with a heightened mental health awareness. They have witnessed the impact of mental health struggles in their communities and among their peers.

    According to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Gen Z is more likely to seek help for mental health issues than previous generations.

    Impact of COVID-19 on mental health awareness and practices:

    The COVID-19 pandemic has played a significant role in shaping Gen Z's approach to mental health. They have experienced the effects of isolation, uncertainty, and the importance of resilience during challenging times.

    A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia notes that the pandemic has increased mental health awareness and a greater willingness to address mental health issues.

  • Implementing Mental Health Monitoring

    Strategies and tools for mental health monitoring in the workplace:

    • Regular Check-Ins: Encouraging open and everyday conversations about mental health among colleagues and supervisors.
    • Mental Health Training: Providing mental health training to supervisors to recognise signs of distress and offer appropriate support.
    • Access to Resources: Ensuring easy access to mental health resources and support networks for tradies facing challenges.
    • Anonymous Reporting: Implementing unknown reporting systems for those who may be hesitant to openly discuss their mental health concerns.
    • Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering flexible work arrangements to accommodate mental health needs.

    Case studiy showcasing the benefits of mental health initiatives:

    Several industries have already witnessed the positive impact of mental health initiatives. For instance, the construction company Lendlease, in partnership with MATES in Construction, introduced a mental health support program that reduced suicide rates among its workforce.

    This program included training and support for tradies to recognise and respond to mental health concerns.

The Gen Z tradies who will be 45 in 2050 and likely in positions of leadership, are poised to bring a heightened mental health awareness to the industry.

Their experiences, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, will drive the implementation of mental health monitoring and support initiatives in the tradie workplace.

By prioritising mental wellbeing, the trade industry can create a healthier and more resilient workforce, ensuring a bright future for all its members.

3. Economic and Entrepreneurial Aspects – The Prosperous Trajectory of Tradie Work

In exploring the future of trade work in 2050, it's crucial to acknowledge the economic and entrepreneurial dimensions that play a pivotal role in this industry's landscape.

  • Lucrative Prospects of Tradie Work

    Analysis of the economic impact of tradie businesses:

    Tradie work has always been a linchpin of the Australian economy. According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), as of 2020, construction alone contributed over $360 billion to the nation's GDP, which is expected to grow.

    The reasons behind the economic vitality of tradie work are multifaceted.

    • High Demand: There is a consistent demand for skilled tradies in various sectors, from construction to plumbing and electrical work. As infrastructure development continues, the need for tradies remains constant.
    • Entrepreneurial Opportunities: Tradies often venture into entrepreneurship, establishing businesses and creating job opportunities. They contribute to the economy and foster innovation within their trades.

    Future predictions regarding the financial aspects of tradie work:

    Looking ahead to 2050, tradie work is likely to remain financially promising. With the growth of urban areas and the need for sustainable construction, tradies will continue to be in demand. Furthermore, advancements in technology will make tradie work more efficient and profitable.

  • Sole Enterprises in Australia

    Exploration of the rise of sole enterprises:

    There has been a noticeable increase in sole enterprises in the trade industry in recent years. Many tradies are opting to run their businesses independently.

    The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman reports that sole enterprises represent a significant portion of the small business landscape, contributing significantly to job creation.

    Impact on the Australian economy and job market:

    • Job Creation: Sole enterprises often lead to the creation of more jobs. As tradies expand their businesses, they hire apprentices and support staff, contributing to employment opportunities.
    • Innovation and Competition: Sole enterprises foster innovation and competition within the industry. Independent tradies are more agile and can adapt quickly to changing market demands.
    • Economic Contribution: These businesses contribute to the Australian economy by generating income, paying taxes, and fueling local economies.

Future trade work in 2050 holds significant economic and entrepreneurial promise.

Tradie businesses continue to make substantial contributions to the economy, and the rise of sole enterprises adds a layer of innovation and dynamism to the industry.

As tradies embrace new technologies and entrepreneurship, they position themselves for a prosperous future, both individually and as contributors to the broader Australian economy.

4. Flexibility and Work-Life Balance – Adapting Traditions and Embracing Diversity

In envisioning the future of tradie work in 2050, it's essential to recognise the evolving nature of work practices and the importance of fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce.

  • Adapting Traditional Practices

    Revisiting and redefining practices like Toolbox Talks:

    Traditionally, "toolbox talks" have been a cornerstone of safety discussions in the trade industry. These talks gather workers to discuss potential hazards, safety protocols, and share experiences.

    In the future, tradies may revisit and redefine these practices to better align with the changing landscape.

    • Online Alternatives: Toolbox talks may transition to online platforms as technology advances, offering flexibility and accessibility. Virtual discussions can accommodate workers on different job sites, enhancing communication and knowledge sharing.
    • Flexible Formats: Adapting the format of toolbox talks to encourage more interactive discussions can foster engagement and proactive safety awareness.
  • Embracing Neurodiversity

    Strategies to accommodate neurodiversity in the workplace:

    • Tailored Support: Offering tailored support to neurodivergent tradies, such as providing clear instructions, quiet workspaces, and mentorship programs, can enhance their job satisfaction and performance.
    • Training and Awareness: Implementing training programs and raising awareness among colleagues to create an inclusive environment where neurodivergent tradies feel valued and understood.

    Benefits of a neurodiverse workforce:

    • Problem-Solving: Neurodivergent individuals often possess unique problem-solving skills and perspectives, contributing to more creative and effective solutions on the job.
    • Diversity of Thought: A neurodiverse workforce can foster a diversity of thought, leading to innovative approaches and improved decision-making.
    • Enhanced Productivity: When neurodivergent tradies are accommodated and supported, they can increase productivity and efficiency.

Future trade work in 2050 will involve adapting traditional practices and embracing diversity.

Flexible and technology-driven methods will enhance communication and safety discussions.

Accommodating neurodiversity will contribute to a more inclusive work environment and bring diverse perspectives that can lead to improved problem-solving and creativity in the trade industry.

5. Diversity in the Tradie Workforce – Embracing Inclusivity and Cultural Richness

In shaping the future of trade work in 2050, diversity is a crucial element that will help foster innovation, creativity, and a more prosperous work environment.

  • Breaking Gender Norms

    Traditionally, the trade industry has been male-dominated. However, strides have been made in recent years to break these gender norms and encourage individuals of all genders to participate in the field.

    Encouraging and facilitating the participation of all genders:

    • Supporting Women in Trades: Initiatives that provide support and resources for women interested in tradie careers are growing. According to a National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) report, the number of women in male-dominated trades has steadily increased.
    • Storytelling: Sharing success stories of individuals breaking gender stereotypes in the trade industry can inspire others to pursue their passions. These stories highlight that skills and dedication are not gender-specific.
  • Celebrating Cultural Diversity

    Importance of a culturally diverse workforce:

    • Innovation and Creativity: A culturally diverse workforce brings together individuals with different perspectives and problem-solving approaches, leading to innovation and creative solutions.
    • Enhanced Communication: A workforce that reflects diverse cultures can communicate more effectively with a broader range of clients and communities.

    Strategies to promote inclusivity and diversity in hiring practices:

    • Diverse Hiring Panels: Actively engage hiring panels representing different cultural backgrounds to mitigate unconscious biases.
    • Cultural Competency Training: Provide cultural competency training to all employees to promote understanding and inclusivity.
    • Community Engagement: Partner with local communities and organisations to identify and hire talent from diverse backgrounds.

Diversity is integral to future trade work in 2050. Breaking gender norms and celebrating cultural diversity enriches the workforce, fosters creativity, and enhances communication. By actively encouraging the participation of individuals of all genders and embracing cultural diversity, the trade industry can create a more inclusive and vibrant future.

The future of trade work in 2050 holds immense promise. Still, it requires the collective efforts of tradies, enterprises, and industry stakeholders.

By embracing technology, prioritising safety and mental health, and fostering diversity and innovation, we can shape a trade industry that is successful, inclusive, resilient, and poised for a vibrant future.

It's time to take action and pave the way for the tradie work of tomorrow.


Published 15/01/2024

In the spirit of reconciliation, MIGAS Apprentices & Trainees acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and emerging, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.