Cementing the industry's future with an apprenticeship in bricklaying

There's a very strong imperative to generate lots of new apprenticeships in the construction industry

It's official. There's a serious shortage of bricklayers, carpenters and joiners throughout Australia. And this shortage has the potential to put the handbrake on the construction industry's growth. Bricklayers, in particular, are in short supply.

Why does this matter? Well, if you happen to be a skilled brickie, chippie or joiner, you'll certainly have no shortage of work coming your way. But it also means the construction industry won't be able to keep pace with the demand for new buildings, whether they're houses, shops, warehouses, or other important pieces of infrastructure.

Brian Berry, CEO of the Federation of Master Builders, said that the shortage of brickies was something affecting nearly half of the approximately 400 small and medium-sized firms who responded to a recent poll. Other companies reported difficulties finding experienced carpenters, site managers and supervisors.

So, there's a very strong imperative to generate lots of new apprenticeships in the construction industry. But there are concerns that only large employers will be taking up this slack. This is because of a new levy on large businesses that's designed specifically to fund new apprenticeships. Unfortunately, two-thirds of all construction apprentices are trained by smaller companies. Industry representatives are therefore calling for a scheme that ensures new apprentices are trained by companies of all sizes. They claim this is the only way this particular skills shortage can be effectively addressed.

"If the levy on large employers is only used to fund apprenticeship training by large employers, how will apprenticeship training by small firms be dealt with?" said Brian Berry.

Thinking of learning a trade and being in demand?

TAFE NSW has a good track record of addressing things like skills shortages. There's never been a better time to apply for an apprenticeship in the construction industry.

There are a few essential skills that TAFE NSW can help you master. Applied mathematics, for example, is an often overlooked skill that's essential for a successful career in construction. You'll also need to get your head around ‘tradie speak' – all covered in the Certificate II in Construction Pathways course.

Once you've grasped the basics, TAFE teachers can help guide you into a career that will be best suited to your strengths. This will allow you to move on to a specific trade course like bricklaying, carpentry or joinery. From there, you'll learn the practical and theoretical components of your trade with TAFE's hands-on approach, which is often the quickest and most effective way to learn anything.

With shifting populations and demographics, this isn't the first skills shortage the construction industry has seen. And it probably won't be the last, either. But as long as there are people out there willing to learn a necessary trade and literally get their hands dirty, the industry will always bounce back.