Concerns have emerged that recent falls in Apprenticeship commencements across Australia will lead to a shortage of qualified bricklayers, in three to four years. The Industry has responded quickly with a “Brickstart Bonus’ incentive to encourage bricklayers to put on bricklaying apprentices in the immediate future. $1000 is being offered to each employer who takes on a new apprentice between 2 January and 30 April this year to help encourage sign-ups. So far, interest has been very encouraging with many enquiries on the offer.
Above: “Michael D’Agostino from ABBTF on site making bricklayers aware of the new Brickstart Bonus.”
Bricklaying Apprenticeship commencements fell dramatically in the last 12 months - by more than 30%, on average. The reason for the drop has been the reduced level of building activity and the consequential discouragement amongst bricklaying contractors about ongoing work opportunities. However, there is a very concerning direct relationship between apprenticeship starts and the supply of qualified bricklayers 3 to 4 years out. The issue is heightened in the bricklaying industry where even when housing demand is steady, qualified bricklayers are often in under supply. In three or four years’ time construction activity is likely to be very busy, creating a skill shortage at the top of the cycle unless new apprenticeships increase significantly.
The payment will be made to employers after the completion of the apprentice’s first year. The highest attrition rate from all apprenticeships occurs in the first year of training and making the payment at this time encourages the employer to do all he can to ensure his apprentice continues into his or her second 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. Further information on all incentives can be found at this website and the ABBTF website.
ABBTF’s Brickstart Bonus is a great additional initiative but only goes part of the way to encourage new apprentice sign-ups. Governments need to do more to assist, such as matching our offer. Lower interest rates to encourage better housing starts would also give the industry the confidence to improve its training commitments.
Geoff Noble, General Manager, ABBTF