Friday, January 29th, 2016

ABBTF is tackling the skill shortage in bricklaying and has a staggering 200 unfilled vacancies for apprentices.  The pool of potential apprentices has been greatly reduced by Universities that drop their standards to boost degree enrolment numbers and revenue. This short-sighted strategy to boost numbers coincides with a major building boom and a record number of over 200,000 dwelling starts.  The shortage of bricklayers and other trades is slowing construction in markets right down the eastern seaboard.

The recent news that Universities are offering places to students with significantly lower ATAR scores than are standard entry level, across a wide range of courses, is a major concern for the construction industry and specifically the bricklaying trade, where acute skill shortages are being experienced.

Many Universities are accepting students into courses with ATAR scores well below the required standard.  This policy is not only giving students false hope (from which some don’t recover to compete in the tertiary education market) but it is likely to increase the current first year drop-out rate of 15%.  It unfairly burdens such students with a HECS-HELP debt and a missed opportunity to start an apprenticeship.

Furthermore, for those that do complete a degree, the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, commenting on the higher Tertiary enrolment numbers in 2015 said that “the number of people not able to get a job immediately after their education was around one third”.

“Australian (youth) must think carefully about the courses they enrol in to ensure they are entering a course that they are not only passionate about, but that has a job at the end,” Minister Birmingham said.

Minister Birmingham also said “Universities must take responsibility for those students they choose to enrol and ensure they have the capabilities and support to succeed.”

We believe young people with ATAR scores below the required level should think twice before accepting places offered by a University.  There are many great opportunities in the construction industry and none better than an apprenticeship in bricklaying, where you get paid to learn.  It offers a valued qualification with life long application and an extensive range of career paths while working outdoors.

Geoff Noble, CEO, 

Australian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation

Contact Profile

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: 0418 388 774


Trade Careers University Low ATAR Entrance Scores



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