The Australian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation notes that apprenticeship commencements in the bricklaying industry have decreased by more than 30% year on year on average across Australia.

Attributed to the low level of building activity and pessimism amongst contractors about future building levels, this decline in commencements has had a significant impact on the capacity for the construction industry to provide sufficient numbers of qualified bricklayers when conditions improve.

Australian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation General Manager Geoff Noble elaborates by explaining that the current scarcity of new commencements will result in a small number of apprentices gaining a qualification in three or four years time, "at a time when construction activity is likely to be very busy, creating a skill shortage at the top of the cycle."

In response, the Australian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation has announced a new one-off bonus that provides a $1,000 incentive for employers who take on a new apprentice between 2nd January, 2012, and 30th April, 2012.

This bonus is payable to employers after the apprentice completes their first year.

"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," Mr. Noble concludes.

Photo: a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Steve-h's Flickr photo stream