Sector Snapshot



largest industry in Australia



of Australian workers are employed in the Construction industry



of technicians and trades hold a Certificate III or higher qualification

The Industry

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in one of the trades, you can look forward to future industry growth and plenty of job opportunities.

Many trades are employed in big industries like construction or manufacturing, and small but important industries like mining.

Construction is Australia’s 3rd largest industry and employs 9 per cent of all workers in the country.

The workers

Trades are skilled workers. They typically have some form of qualification and earn higher than average salaries.

Almost 60 per cent of technicians and trades hold a Certificate III or higher vocational education qualification.

Only 27 per cent of trades have no post-school qualification, showing just how many qualified trades there are competing for jobs.

Within construction, 50 per cent of workers possess a Certificate III or higher VET qualification, and in manufacturing, 35 per cent have Certificate III or higher VET qualification.

The future of trades

Although jobs in trades were affected in the short term by the COVID-19 pandemic, they show promising recent growth and will remain vital to Australia’s future.

In what was a rough year over 2020, employment growth for trades had been trending downward, but the latest data from Seek shows that trades jobs bounced back by a stagering 9.1 per cent in March 2021.

“In mid-March 2020, we saw COVID have a swift and extreme impact on the labour market – 12 months on and we have seen the highest number of job ads posted on SEEK in a month than at any time in our more than 23-year history,” said Kendra Banks, Managing Director, SEEK ANZ.

Federal and state governments are helping the trades sector to recover from the pandemic.

One of these initiatives is the Australian Government’s JobTrainer program, which subsidises trades qualifications.

When matched by funding from state governments, it’s a grand investment of $1 billion.

In Victoria, JobTrainer is complemented by the Free TAFE for Priority Courses initiative, which lets many students study trades qualifications for free. 

Apart from funding to support education in the trades, federal and state governments are also investing in supporting apprenticeships and trades employment.

Employer incentives to hire apprentices include the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees subsidy, the Additional Identified Skills Shortage Payment and Support for Adult Australian Apprentices (SAAA), to name just a few.

The future of trades will also be defined by their employing industries.

While predictions for future growth in industries like construction were disrupted by the pandemic, initiatives like the Victorian Government’s Big Build social and affordable housing program promise future growth in construction.


Some of the top employing trades occupations include:

  • Electricians
  • Carpenters and Joiners
  • Plumbers
  • Mechanics
  • Welders
  • Builders


While it’s not essential to have a post-school qualification to work in trades, certificates are very common.

Trades like plumbers and electricians usually require a certificate III or higher, while carpenters can get jobs without certificates if they can demonstrate their skills.

Qualifications, especially certificate IIIs, are common in trades because they are taken with apprenticeships and traineeships. This experience is essential for getting trades jobs.

Box Hill Institute offers certificates and diplomas across a diverse range of trades, from building to plumbing, electrical, welding and automotive.

Many of our trades qualifications are funded through JobTrainer and Free Priority Courses.

If you’re a young person or a career changer, you could be eligible to study for free or at a very low cost.

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