The Difference Between General And Skilled Labourer

You are currently viewing The Difference Between General And Skilled Labourer

When you’re looking to hire labourers for a construction project, it’s important to figure out what kind of labourers you specifically need. The two main categories are general and skilled labourers. So, what is the difference between a general and skilled labourer?

Skilled labourers undergo specialised training in specific areas of the construction industry, whereas general labourers complete generic labour work. Skilled labourers will undergo more training than general labourers resulting in work as bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, stonemasons and more.

Read on to find out all about skilled and general labourers.

General labourer vs skilled labourer

The main difference between general and skilled labourers is that skilled labourers have more specialised training in certain construction fields. General labourers can complete tasks from cleaning and landscaping to helping build major structures on construction sites. Skilled labourers will focus more on specific parts of construction, such as bricklaying or electrical work. Below is a small table outlining the main differences between these two kinds of labourers.

General LabourerSkilled Labourer
Type of WorkGeneral construction work associated with the term ‘tradie’Complex and specific work, majoring in an area of construction
TasksPerform a wide variety of general construction tasks, i.e., cleaning, gardening, general structure buildingSpecific to sections of the industry, i.e., bricklaying, carpentering, plumbing, landscaping, electric work, etc.
KnowledgeDoes not need specialised knowledgeHas specialised knowledge and extra training
TrainingCompletes general construction training and induction, plus tickets for specific work environmentsCompletes general and specific construction training, plus tickets for skilled labour work
ToolsNot specifically trained to use power toolsTrained to use all types of power tools in their respective fields
SupervisionNeeds to be supervisedOften supervises self and other labourers
Wage$58,500 – $70,000/annum (estimate)$73,000 – $90,000/annum (estimate)


Employers hire skilled labourers to lead general labourers in completing specific aspects of construction, such as bricklaying. Often, more general labourers will be hired to provide a team for skilled labourers to instruct. Both sectors of the labouring workforce are needed to complete major construction, but general labourers are frequently hired for home jobs too. So, how do you figure out who to hire?

Who to hire: General labourers or skilled labourers?

What do general labourers do?When deciding whether you need to hire general or skilled labourers, you need to consider the tasks you want to be completed. As we mentioned, skilled labourers have specialities such as plumbing and electrical work. They have completed the extra education and apprentice work to be able to professionally complete these jobs. Any specific work such as plumbing, carpentry, or stonemasonry will require a skilled labourer.

For more generic work that doesn’t require extra training, you can hire a general labourer. General labourers are the most common construction workers that follow the leadership and advice of skilled labourers. If you are wanting to build up your labour team, you can hire a bulk number of general labourers.

Any construction site will need a mix of general and skilled labourers. For more advice on hiring the best labourers, get in touch with our Canberra Labour Hire team. Keep reading to learn more about these two labour fields.

What is a general labourer?

A general labourer is a worker who performs a broad range of tasks. These tasks are usually unspecialized ones that do not require a lot of training and expertise. General labourers can work in a variety of industries including construction and manufacturing. Their tasks can be as simple as moving materials and goods around warehouses, to building frames for buildings.

General labourers can learn to use a large variety of tools and build their skills by applying and gaining more constructions tickets. This can allow them to work with power tools, at different heights, or in small spaces. The more tickets a general labourer has, the more valuable they are to an employer. This is because they can then be asked to complete a wider range of tasks, saving the employer from hiring more skilled labourers. This is a bonus to employers because general labourers don’t cost as much.Hiring general and skilled labourers

With the wide range of general skills they have, what do general labourers do?

What do general labourers do?

General labourers can work in many places, like warehouses, manufacturing plants, construction sites, and even gardens. They can also be asked to assist skilled labourers in tasks, following the guidance of their superior. The job duties of general labourers depend on their workplace as work can vary from worksite to worksite.

For example, in construction sites, general labourers engage in tasks like:

But the tasks labourers have to perform in a factory can be totally different from these. General labourers in factories assist in packaging, using forklifts, cleaning, etc.

General labourers are expected to perform a wide variety of tasks. Most of these tasks are simple and can be easily learned. But some can require training and practice. In addition, work is usually physically demanding. General labourers mostly work outside and in all weather conditions.

What do you need to become a general labourer?

What is a skilled labourer?The best part about becoming a general labourer is that almost anyone can do it! You don’t need to have completed a tertiary degree or specialized training to join the workforce. You will need to undergo general construction training and obtain a white card to be able to work in Australia. Once this is completed, you can apply for labour work or contact a labour hire company to find general labour work.

Keep in mind that you need to prepare for:

  • Physically demanding work
  • Fulfilling different roles
  • Having a wide range of responsibilities
  • Constant revisiting of workplace safety protocols
  • Conversing with all levels of workers
  • Lots of teamwork

What is a skilled labourer?

A skilled labourer has undertaken extra training and experience to learn tasks specific to a sector of the construction industry. They have more education and training behind them than general labourers and often are asked to instruct teams of general labourers. Skilled labourers often will have one or multiple TAFE qualifications, plus apprenticeships under their belts. Some will have university degrees.

The duties of a skilled labourer won’t change drastically from job to job because they are hired for their specialised knowledge. Plumbers will focus on plumbing, carpenters on building carpentry. They aren’t tasked with any general work. Skilled labourers can be left to supervise themselves and a team of general labourers. They also have more decision-making responsibility.

Types of skilled labourers include:

  • Bricklayers
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Landscapers
  • Plumbers
  • Stonemasons
  • Ironworkers
  • Crane operators
  • Welders
  • Turbine mechanics

There are great opportunities in the construction industry for both skilled and general labourers, both of which are currently in high demand. It’s a great time to get started in a trade and build your construction career. Find out more in our Canberra Labour Hire blog, including what to expect as a new construction worker. Get in touch with us to hire labour workers near you today! Apply for general labour work and skilled labour work through Canberra Labour Hire.