Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Apprenticeship commencements in bricklaying have fallen dramatically - by more than 30% year on year, on average across Australia - due to the low level of building activity and pessimism amongst contractors about future building levels. The decline in start-ups has a direct bearing on the ability of the construction industry to deliver sufficient numbers of qualified bricklayers when the market improves. In response, the industry has announced additional support for bricklayers in the form of a one-off bonus to encourage the sign up of new apprentice bricklayers.

Spokesperson for the national industry body responsible for addressing the long term skills shortage in brick and blocklaying, ABBTF’s Geoff Noble said “There is a lack of confidence by many contractors in the certainty of future work and a genuine concern by the construction industry that the current low level of apprentice commencements will result in a very small number of apprentices gaining a qualification in three or four years’ time. This will be at a time when construction activity is likely to be very busy, creating a skill shortage at the top of the cycle.’

ABBTF (Australian Brick & Blocklaying Training Foundation) represent clay brick and concrete masonry manufacturers across the country and was established to address the skill shortage in brick and blocklaying.

The new ‘Brickstart Bonus’ involves a $1,000 incentive for employers who take on a new apprentice between 2 January 2012 and 30 April 2012 and is payable to employers after the completion of the apprentice’s first year. Bricklayers already receive other generous subsidies to encourage them to train apprentices: these are the current ABBTF subsidy of $4,000 ($3,000 in South Australia), the Federal Government’s $4,000 and incentives from State based construction industry training funds.

Geoff Noble, General Manager said ‘ABBTF’s Brickstart Bonus also rewards the completion of the first year, a stage of the apprenticeship which is when most withdrawals and cancellations occur. The ABBTF Brickstart Bonus is a great additional initiative but only goes part of the way to encourage new apprentice sign ups. We would hope that Government more than matches our offer to support employers taking on new apprentices. Lower interest rates to encourage better housing starts would also give the industry the confidence to improve their training commitments’.

Call ABBTF on 1300 66 44 96 for details or visit or

14 February 2012

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, falling apprenticeships, Geoff Noble, qualified bricklayers, apprentice bricklayers, trade skills shortage



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