Friday, December 16th, 2011

Serious shortages in qualified bricklayers and increased building costs will occur unless industry takes on more bricklaying apprentices during the current construction downturn, claims industry spokesman Geoff Noble of the Australian Brick & Blocklaying Training Foundation (ABBTF).

The latest HIA Report showa there is a downturn in building activity with the lowest approvals for two years and national housing starts at 13% down on last year. In some States bricklayers are closing their business and apprentices are being laid off with little chance of finding bricklaying employment to complete their qualification.

 “It’s a serious loss of skill and cost to the industry, given the subsidy programme,“ Mr Noble, General Manager of ABBTF, said.

Most apprentices who have lost their jobs mid-way through their apprenticeship have sought work in other industries and are unlikely to return to their training, or the trade, when construction activity returns to higher levels. This is a real concern for the bricklaying trade and the construction industry.

The cost of this fallout will be felt in skill shortages which will increase construction costs due to delays, poor quality workmanship, lack of productivity and higher bricklaying rates.

“There is an urgent need to address the problem by supporting out of trade apprentices to continue off site training and provide incentives for employers to recommence an apprentice,” Mr Noble said.

As a result of the industry downturn, apprentice commencements are also very low, compounding the growing number of suspended and cancelled apprentices. Unless residential and commercial building companies and bricklaying companies and contractor employers rally to support the lack of Apprenticeship places, in three or four years there will be very few graduating apprentices to bolster the workforce when skilled trades will be in demand.

There is also a need to review existing Australian Government subsidies for employers. The current $4,000 support has not changed in the past decade. Over the past few years apprentice rates and benefits have improved which have been welcomed, however, the key to future training of the workforce is with the employers and their capacity to hire and train apprentices.

ABBTF represent brick and block manufacturers and is addressing the long term skill shortage in brick and blocklaying with a range of programs and apprenticeship employment support. The industry is aging rapidly and despite the peaks and troughs in demand, a consistent long term supply of qualified bricklayers is integral to housing affordability in Australia in the future.

We make a significant investment in promoting the trade and its career path to young people, as well as provide a hands-on bricklaying Step Out Program to 2,500 school students each year.

This valuable work is providing good quality candidates keen to start an apprenticeship in brick and blocklaying. However, the significant downturn in building activity is severely limiting the employment and training prospects for these young people.


Geoff Noble from ABBTF is available for interview and can be contacted on 0418 388 774 or 03 9556 3033. Visit or

Contact Profile

Australian Brick & Blocklaying Training Foundation

Background to Australian Brick & Blocklaying Training Foundation (ABBTF)
The ABBTF was established by manufacturers of clay brick and concrete masonry throughout Australia to ensure there is an adequate and competent bricklaying and blocklaying workforce. Its purpose is to support the demand for bricks and blocks as a construction material and improve the standing of bricklayers and blocklayers within the industry.

ABBTF apprenticeship programs to address the skill shortage in bricklaying are funded by a small levy on the sale of clay bricks and concrete masonry and a matching contribution from brick and block manufacturers. The levy represents $16 on the cost of an average Australian house and $40 for double brick construction, the prominent brick in Western Australia.

Geoff Noble from ABBTF is available for interview and con be contacted on 0418 388 774 or 03 9556 3033. Visit the industry stakeholder site: or the student’s site:
Geoff Noble
P: 03 9556 3033
M: 0418 388 774


ABBTF, Australian Brick & Blocklaying Training Foundation, construction downturn, Geoff Noble, qualified bricklayers, apprentice bricklayers, trade skills shortage



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