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Starting a career in the residential building industry

This policy sets out HIA's position on the benefits of a career in residential building and outlines the need to attract, train and retrain people to work across all aspects of the industry.

HIA’s Position Statement

1. The primary pathway to a building-based career in the residential building industry is through education, training and employment experience. It is critical that governments acknowledge and continue to support this education and training pathway by recognising:

  • The important role our industry’s workforce plays in building the homes Australia needs
  • The opportunity to build a lifetime career in the residential building industry is real and rewarding
  • Vocational Education and Training (VET) plays a key role in educating the current and future workforce of the residential building industry
  • That an effective education and training pathway for people seeking to enter a career in the residential building industry is critical
  • That a building based career in residential building should be treated as equivalent to obtaining tertiary qualifications for other careers as they provide a vital and significant service to the local community and
  • That the residential building industry plays a vital role in educating and training the future workforce and should be engaged in the processes to attract, train and retain that workforce.

2. In achieving these objectives the residential building industry becomes an attractive, reliable and safe career choice with an education system that is set up to provide students with real life experiences and quality outcomes.


3. To continue to attract the next generation of participants and educate the wider population on its impact, the residential building industry requires national and state policy settings that promote home building and vocational education and training, active industry associations, incentives for employers to invest in the future workforce and an accountable, agile and engaging education environment.

4. To ensure the best possible outcomes HIA considers that key areas of focus for attracting people into a career in the residential building industry should include:

  • National, state and territory government policy settings that support the entry of students into vocational education and training pathways for residential building and provide employers and apprentices with confidence in the long term stability of the industry
  • A range of training options and delivery methods that are able to adapt and be driven by the evolution of the industry
  • Promotion and recognition that a building-based career acquired through vocational education and training allows a person to ‘earn while they learn’ placing them ahead of graduates from many other training pathways at the end of their training;
  • Education and training must be delivered in a competitive market offering genuine ‘user choice’ to all participants
  • Recognition of the strength and value of women’s involvement in the residential building industry today and the need to promote further engagement with women to enter into building based careers
  • Acknowledgement and support of the critical role good employers play in delivering the training and education for apprentices. This may be through wage support measures, business incentives or assistance (mentoring services) or recognition in the modern award of both younger students and older students
  • Resourcing and incentivising schools to support students to transition out of the school system and into the next phase of their life at the appropriate age and stage
  • Acknowledging that diversity and inclusion is under-represented currently in building based careers and there is a need to promote and engage with industry and governments to invest in more programs offering more opportunities and
  • Industry promotion of projects, role models and success stories as a way of highlighting and showcasing the career possibilities available to all people when considering a career in residential building.


5. The education and training pathways supporting students to take up a career in residential building should include genuinely competency-based vocational education, being a training system that:

  • Has flexibility to recognise age, previous experience and training as the industry seeks to attract new participants from different backgrounds and experiences
  • Is flexible and agile to cater to the individual students needs and choices
  • Provides for the inclusion of the following features:
    • Performance criteria that include measures of proficiency
    • The need for the employer, as well as the Registered Training Organisation (RTO) to sign-off in the competency assessment process
    • Recognition of individual statements of attainment that correspond to discrete skills sets which together form part of a full building qualification
    • Training plans that:
    • - Are developed between the RTO, the employer and the apprentice
      - Accommodate both the training needs of the apprentice, as well as the operational needs of the employer’s business
      - Identify steps or stages that correspond to points of wage progression and
      - Include a review mechanism that is acceptable to all parties
    • The recognition of industry guidelines and benchmarks as published by the Housing Industry Association Ltd from time to time
    • An efficient and independent dispute resolution mechanism
    • Training and support for those in building careers to continue to develop their technical, business and interpersonal skills to support the ongoing onsite learning e.g. Train the Trainer type programs and
  • Allows for:
    • An entry-level skills assessment to be conducted by an RTO prior to the training plan being entered into and
    • The keeping of an up-to-date log book of the tasks performed by the apprentice, to be
    • kept by the apprentice
    • signed by all parties and
    • taken into account by the assessor when that apprentice’s competency is being assessed.
  • Offers flexible workplaces able to attract high quality staff and respond quickly to changing customer demands and
  • The implementation of flexible pathways centred on specific skill sets which are required by the residential building industry.

6. Registered training organisations (RTOs) must provide consistency in their delivery and be regularly audited to ensure that the training system is providing suitably qualified apprentices and trainees.


7. In order to support the retention of people starting a career in residential building the vocational education and training system should:

  • Offer an introduction to building based careers that profile the inherent physical challenges students need to consider such as their physical capabilities, dexterity, alertness, personal safety, mental health and the well-being of others when working in the industry
  • Provide adequate funding for wrap around services that can support apprentices and trainees across each of these challenges to support a positive learning outcome and increase the completion rates
  • Recognise the important role that Group Training Organisations (GTOs) play in the retention of apprentices and trainees. Third party support such as GTOs can provide the essential wrap around services for the apprentice and the host that may not exist within the thousands of small businesses that commit their time and resources to training apprentices
  • Support the role of mentors, peers, industry associations, government apprenticeship providers and parents in the retention of an apprentice or trainee
  • Offer nationally funded training initiatives for employers and hosts to upskill them on the systems, processes and behaviours expected when hosting trainees and apprentices
  • Reduce the cost to employers of taking on an apprentice in tandem with offering appropriate financial or other incentives to assist apprentices to continue in their training
  • Remove industrial impediments (such as restrictive award conditions) to greater choice and flexibility in career progression.

8. HIA acknowledges that under a genuine competency based-training system, apprenticeship wages will progress correspondingly with training progression.


Policy endorsed by HIA National Policy Congress: April 2022

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