National Skills Week 2021 August 23 to 29, invites Australians to ‘RE-THINK’ their ideas of what Vocational Education and Training is all about and the role it can have in preparing people for work for the future, especially in a post-pandemic economy. 

Rethink what you know and your ideas on where skills can take you. A skilled workforce leads to an employed workforce. Newman College has known this for over 40 years but more recently it has become extremely apparent with skills shortages in a range of trades. 

The Human Services Skills Organisation (HSSO) estimates Australia needs 1 million Health and Community Care workers by 2050 and highlights that Human Services is Australia’s fastest-growing sector, requiring a vast amount of specialist skills training and education.

In Building and Construction, 113,700 more workers are needed by 2024. (Source: Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business). All trades are experiencing skills shortages in NSW including bricklaying, carpentry, painting, plastering, plumbing electricals, stonemasonry, tiling and glazing trades.

The Housing Industry Association June 2020 Quarterly Report highlighted that bricklaying remains the most in-demand trade out of the 13 trades covered in the report. As more bricklayers are looking to retire, the void of skilled bricklayers will continue to widen. 

“There’s a huge opportunity for the younger generations to step up to a career with strong earning potential,” Australian Brick & Blocklaying Training Foundation (ABBTF) CEO, Michael Morrissey said. 

“If not enough of the younger generation step up before current bricklayers retire, this will hurt the industry. If the older generation has no one to pass their knowledge onto, this will affect the quality of the trade for the long term.” 

More broadly, the construction sector as a whole is facing similar skills shortages, says Jon Davies, Chief Executive of the Australian Constructors Association. 

“Effective skills training is vital for maximising the skilled workforce and productivity,” he said. 

Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA) Group recently undertook a six-month consultation process with employers and other organisations in the manufacturing and related industries to identify the priority actions needed to ensure Australia has the highly skilled workers required to support modern manufacturing. 

ISBA CEO Sharon Robertson said there was a strong and clear consensus from manufacturers, training organisations, peak bodies and unions operating within the sector for the need to provide more work-based learning and apprenticeship training opportunities that create pathways to higher skills development.

National Skills Week Chair, Brian Wexham, says there has never been a more important time to educate job seekers and school leavers on the importance of gaining a skill, particularly highlighting key job growth industries such as manufacturing and human services bricklaying and construction in general.

Launched (virtually) by the Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, on Tuesday 24 August, National Skills Week’s mission is to articulate and advocate – “learning by doing is as important as academic learning”. To showcase examples of the many pathways to success and dispel some outdated myths often associated with vocational training.  For more information, visit