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This page provides information and data on the Furnishing industry, which is a component of the broader Manufacturing industry.

The furnishing industry includes the manufacturing and installation of internal décor as well as the structural aspects of residential and commercial buildings. The industry also includes external structures such as awnings.

The furnishing industry consists of four areas:

  • Residential furniture/furnishings/glazing
  • Commercial (office or corporate)
  • Hospitality (hotels, motels, resorts etc.)
  • Design (interior, furnishing and manufacture).

The majority of the industry operates on the eastern seaboard and is largely composed of businesses operating as non-employers or as small businesses.

Nationally recognised training for the Furnishing industry is delivered through the MSF Furnishing Training Package.

Information sourced from Furnishing IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work.

For information on other manufacturing industry sectors please visit the Manufacturing and Related Services cluster page, the Automotive cluster page, and the Food and Pharmaceutical Production cluster page.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and skills forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Numbers employed in furniture manufacturing sector more than halved between 2002 and 2012 but since then employment has been on the increase again with further increase expected till 2022.

Cabinet makers make up over 30% of the employment in furniture manufacturing followed by carpenters and joiners (11%). Neither occupation is expected to increase in employment size up to 2022.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Numbers of enrolments in furniture qualifications have remained relatively stable over the period 2014-2016, however, the numbers of program completions have decreased over this same period.  Program enrolments in 2016 were spread across the various qualification levels ranging from certificate I to diploma or higher. Just under a half of the enrolments in 2016 were in furniture related qualifications with large numbers also being enrolled in design related qualifications.

Just under a half of the qualifications were delivered by technical and further education (TAFE) institutes, with about one quarter by private providers and one fifth by schools. However, over three-quarters of furnishing related qualifications were delivered by schools. The majority of subject enrolments were funded by government (over 60%), followed by domestic fee-for-service (about one third). The large majority of students were located in the eastern states.

Apprenticeship and traineeship commencements and completions  have fluctuated somewhat over the period 2010-2016. About two-thirds of the apprentices were for the intended occupation of cabinet makers, however there were also apprenticeships aimed at the intended occupations of glaziers, floor finishers and wood machinists. The apprenticeships were largely undertaken by students from the eastern states.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET Students by Industry.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of total VET. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Infographic title: Priority skills: 2017 skills forecast,Infographic data,, Title: Top priority skills,,Technology, Green skills/sustainability, Lean and other business process skills, Installation skills, Personalisation and customisation,,Title: Top generic skills,, Technology skills, Environmental and sustainability, Customer service/marketing, Design mindset/thinking critically/system thinking/solving problems, Managerial/leadership skills<br />
Infographic title: Skills and occupations in demand: job vacancies,,Title: Top generic skills in demand,,  Communication skills, Organisational skills, Detail-oriented, Planning, Problem solving,,Title: Top 5 occupations in demand,, Carpenters and Joiners, Production Managers, Cabinet Makers, Product Assemblers,  Wood Machinists,,Title: Top 5 locations,, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia<br />
Title: Top employers,, Bunnings Warehouse, Downer EDI, Boral Limited,  New South Wales Government, New South Wales Ministry of Health,,<br />
Infographic source, Priority skills source: Furnishing IRC Skills Forecast and Schedule of Work 2016-17, Job vacancy occupations in demand source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight Real Time Labor Market Information tool

Industry insights on skills needs

While the IRC skills forecast lists technology skills as the top needed skill both in terms of priority skills and technology skills the job vacancy data lists communication skills as the most sought after generic skill by employers in this sector. However, the communication and other top generic skills from the job vacancy data are relevant to other generic skills listed in the IRC skills forecast such as Customer Service/marketing, Design mindset/thinking critically/systems thinking/solving problems, and Managerial/leadership. 

The IRC skills forecast notes that there is a trend for low voltage, embedded electronic equipment in the fitted furniture sector. This includes automation of cabinets and also smarter lighting. This has skilling implications for those installing them.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

Industry associations and advisory bodies

FIAA (Furnishing Industry Association of Australia)

Australia Furniture Association

WCAA (Window Coverings Association of Australia Inc.)


Employee associations

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU)

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2017, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal  

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit 251 Furniture Manufacturing, employment projections to May 2022
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations , employment projections to May 2022
    • 3941 Cabinetmakers
    • 3312 Carpenters and Joiners
    • 3933 Upholsterers
    • 8322 Product Assemblers
    • 1335 Production Managers
    • 3942 Wood Machinists and Other Wood Trades Workers
    • 6113 Sales Representatives.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), sex, state and territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 September 2017 <>

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit 251 Furniture Manufacturing, 2000 to 2017, May Quarter.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by ANZSIC 3 digit 251 Furniture Manufacturing, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • MSF and LMF Furnishing Training Package.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2014, 2015, 2016 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document. 

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place.  This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

MSF and LMF Furniture Training package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2016 commencements
  • 2010 to 2016 completions 
  • 2016 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2016 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Furnishing Industry Reference Committee’s 2017-2021 IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work.

Burning Glass Technologies: Labor Insight – real-time labor market information tool <> 2017.

  • Job advertisements from all of Australia from January 2014 to August 2017 are included in the analysis. Data shown is the top five advertised VET-related occupations (4 digit level Technicians and Trades Workers, Labourers, Sales Workers and Machinery Operators and Drivers) and the top five locations and employers according to job advertisements.  As there were very few advertisements when the data was filtered by ANZSIC 3 digit industry 251 Furniture Manufacturing, the data was filtered by the following occupations as a proxy:
    • 3941 Cabinet Makers
    • 3312 Carpenters and Joiners
    • 3933 Upholsterers
    • 8322 Product Assemblers
    • 1335 Production Managers
    • 3942  Wood Machinists and Other wood Trades Workers

Skills data has also been extracted from the Burning Glass Labor Insights job vacancy data tool. Data shown is the proportion of job advertisements which request generic skills for VET-related occupations in the industry and occupations listed above.

Updated: 15 Oct 2018
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