An education and careers pathway that properly reflects the professionalism of strata managers in Western Australia is essential.
It has been central to ongoing talks between SCA (WA) and the State’s land agency, Landgate.
In the last couple of months, we’ve been making ground.
What we ultimately hope to achieve are education and career pathways to benefit people in the industry; reassure the public their strata managers are well qualified; and attract much-needed new people to our workforce.
With increased strata development and the popularity of strata living, demand for strata managers and staff in WA is running high and outstripping the rate at which new people are joining the industry.
It’s imperative we have a strong, education system to offer new recruits. It should be something we are proud to present at any careers expo and that will ensure our people are the best prepared they can be to work in the strata field.
Unfortunately, in WA the existing education system is at risk of coming to a grinding halt.
In 2020 the WA government introduced changes to the State’s Strata Titles Act aimed at modernising the system. As part of updating the strata regulations, the owner of a strata management company is now required to hold a Certificate IV in Strata Community Management and strata managers to have completed up to six units in the certificate.
The education qualifications are set out in Schedule 4 of the Strata Titles (General) Regulations 2019 and require the new qualifications by May 2024.
But there is a hitch.
Training providers are not yet offering the Certificate IV or the prescribed educational requirements, making it impossible for many in the industry to meet the deadline.
A course at TAFE is expected to expire at the end of September and there are no plans to continue it.
Other training providers have courses in the pipeline but have held off announcing the release dates due to uncertainty over changes with prescribed units as national training packages currently do not align with WA requirements.
SCA has been working towards becoming a registered training organisation, but the expected start date is 2023.
In December 2021, SCA (WA) set up a working group with Landgate to look at issues the association has identified with the amended strata laws and regulations and to find potential solutions. The education system has been a priority.
At the meetings, SCA (WA) representatives have urged Landgate to consider a deadline extension for strata managers to enable them to meet the educational requirements.
An extension would also allow training providers to deal with what is expected to be a high level of demand once the new Certificate IV in Strata Community Management courses begin.
SCA (WA) is hopeful that the transition period to the new requirements can be extended and that the industry can also move to a new, three-tiered qualification system in the short term. It is hoped the immediate problems in the education pathway can be remedied within 12 months.
A long-term goal for the industry would be for the NSW education model to be adopted in WA, including a Diploma.
There’s also been a hive of other activity in WA over the past few months, not the least moving into and opening our new offices in South Perth. It’s great to have a new base after being without a headquarters for more than a year.
With the Federal election on May 21, SCA (WA) was also busy on the campaign trail. Major candidates in electorates with high numbers of strata properties were sent SCA’s Federal Election Priorities document which calls for greener strata communities, more affordable insurance, and action to combat building defects.
I met with candidates in electorates north and south of Perth to discuss the priorities and with Patrick Gorman, the sitting Labor member for Perth.
On the State front, the WA government released its 2022-2023 budget in May with a range of tax reforms and incentives aimed at boosting housing and land supply, encouraging urban infill and improving housing availability.
It had several incentives for people to buy into the apartment market, including land tax concessions for build-to-rent developments and transfer duty rebates for off-the-plan purchases.
These could encourage new apartment developments across Perth and bring with them an influx of new owners, further adding to the growth in apartment living — and increasing demand for management services.
Which brings us back to the importance of our career pathways and education system and those talks with Landgate.