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Overview

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

The furnishing sector includes the manufacturing and installation of internal décor, as well as the structural aspects of residential and commercial buildings. The sector also includes external structures such as awnings. There were nearly 85,000 businesses operating within the sector at June 2016, with the majority of entities non-employing or small in size (less than 20 employees).

The Furnishing sector comprises a number of specialised sub-sectors including:

  • Flooring technology
  • Furniture design and technology also known as furniture manufacturing
  • Furniture finishing also known as French polishing
  • Glass and glazing
  • Installation of blinds, awnings, security screens and grills
  • Interior decoration and design
  • Kitchen/bathroom/cabinet design, manufacture and installation
  • Manufacture of bedding, blinds, awnings, security screens and grills (commercial/residential)
  • Picture framing
  • Timber and composite machining also known as wood machining
  • Coopering
  • Piano tuning.

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

For other information on manufacturing and related services, visit the following cluster pages:

Information sourced from the Furnishing IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

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

IRC and skills forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Numbers employed in the furniture manufacturing sector more than halved between 2002 and 2012, however since then employment has been increasing with further increases expected till 2022.

Cabinetmakers 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

During 2017, there were approximately 20,600 program enrolments in Furnishing Training Package qualifications, and just over 4,500 completions. Numbers of enrolments have declined since 2015 which had approximately 22,150 enrolments. Completions have also steadily decreased since 2014. 

Program enrolments in 2017 were spread across the various qualification levels, ranging from certificate I to diploma or higher, with the highest number at the certificate III level. Approximately half of the enrolments during 2017 were in Furniture-related qualifications, with nearly a third in Design-related qualifications. The most common intended occupations for the training were Product Assembler, followed by Cabinetmaker, and then Interior Decorator.

For enrolments during 2017, just over half of the qualifications were delivered by TAFE institutes, a further 21% by private providers and 16% by schools. Provider type varied by field of qualification, for example schools were particularly active in furnishing and related qualifications, delivering 54% of training in this area. Overall, around two thirds of subjects were government funded, with domestic fee-for-service arrangements accounting for most of the remainder. Again, there were differences by provider type, with subjects provided by schools and TAFE institutes more likely to be government funded than those delivered by private training providers. The large majority of students (nearly 80%) were from the eastern states.

Apprenticeship and traineeship commencements and completions have fluctuated somewhat over the years 2010–17, with a decline in numbers overall across the whole period to 2661 and 1176 respectively during 2017. During 2017, about two-thirds of apprentices were training for the intended occupation of Cabinetmaker, with Glazier and Floor Finisher the next two most common intended occupations. Over 80% of apprenticeship activity was reported from the three 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

Industry insights on skills needs

The Furnishing IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast, identifies the following priority skills to guide development of the training package:

  • Furniture design mindset and technology
  • STEM, soft STEM and employability skills
  • Digital skills including technical drawing and CAD modelling and mobile technologies
  • Customer service and sales skills
  • Ergonomics and inclusive design/small housing design.

The IRC skills forecast ranks Learning agility / Information literacy / Intellectual autonomy and self-management as the top key generic workforce skills. Communication and problem-solving skills are also identified by both the IRC skills forecast, and by employers in job advertisements as important to the sector.

The IRC skills forecast, reports that an ageing workforce in the Furnishing sector is leading to growing shortages in some skilled occupations and regions. A recent survey of the glazing industry, showed that 85% of respondents indicated a critical skills shortage of skilled/qualified Glaziers, which they expect to continue for the next five years. The survey findings indicate, that employers struggled to attract a suitable number of applicants with adequate skills and experience.

The IRC skills forecast also highlights advancing automation and technology as driving the need for a new mix of skills within the Furnishing sector workforce. Skills in technical drawing, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Numeric Control (CNC) programming are highly sought after. This trend toward higher usage of technology has increased the minimum skill level required for workers entering the industry, as many employers are now seeking advanced computer skills to program, maintain and operate the equipment. Basic digital literacy is also seen as of fundamental importance in the Furnishing sector, with the workforce requiring skills in new equipment used in manufacturing, such as hand-held mobile devices to measure and quote, and social media to market the business and cloud-based services.

Links and resources

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 September 2017, <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202017?OpenDocument>

  • 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.

  • Design
    • LMF20908 - Certificate II in Flooring Technology
    • LMF30102 - Certificate III in Floor Covering and Finishing
    • LMF31208 - Certificate III in Flooring Technology
    • LMF31908 - Certificate III in Interior Decoration (Retail Services)
    • LMF32009 - Certificate III in Kitchens and Bathrooms (Client Services)
    • LMF40408 - Certificate IV in Interior Decoration
    • LMF40508 - Certificate IV in Furniture Design and Technology
    • LMF40609 - Certificate IV in Design of Kitchens, Bathrooms and Interior Spaces
    • LMF50408 - Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration
    • LMF50508 - Diploma of Furniture Design and Technology
    • LMF60208 - Advanced Diploma of Interior Design
    • LMF60308 - Advanced Diploma of Furniture Design and Technology
    • MSF30813 - Certificate III in Flooring Technology
    • MSF31013 - Certificate III in Interior Decoration Retail Services
    • MSF31313 - Certificate III in Kitchens and Bathrooms - Retail Services
    • MSF40113 - Certificate IV in Interior Decoration
    • MSF40213 - Certificate IV in Furniture Design and Technology
    • MSF40313 - Certificate IV in Design of Kitchens, Bathrooms and Interior Spaces
    • MSF50213 - Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration
    • MSF50313 - Diploma of Furniture Design and Technology
    • MSF60113 - Advanced Diploma of Interior Design
  • Furnishing and related
    • LMF10102 - Certificate I in Furnishing
    • LMF20602 - Certificate II in Picture Framing
    • LMF20702 - Certificate II in Soft Furnishing
    • LMF20802 - Certificate II in Upholstery
    • LMF21008 - Certificate II in Blinds and Awnings
    • LMF30702 - Certificate III in Mattress and Base Making
    • LMF30802 - Certificate III in Picture Framing
    • LMF30902 - Certificate III in Soft Furnishing
    • LMF31002 - Certificate III in Upholstery
    • LMF31102 - Certificate III in Production Upholstery
    • LMF31408 - Certificate III in Musical Instrument Making and Repair
    • LMF40308 - Certificate IV in Musical Instrument Making and Repair
    • MSF10113 - Certificate I in Furnishing
    • MSF20113 - Certificate II in Furnishing
    • MSF30313 - Certificate III in Timber and Composites Machining
    • MSF30513 - Certificate III in Picture Framing
    • MSF30613 - Certificate III in Soft Furnishing
    • MSF30713 - Certificate III in Upholstery
    • MSF30913 - Certificate III in Blinds, Awnings, Security Screens and Grilles
  • Furniture
    • LMF20202 - Certificate II in Furniture Finishing
    • LMF20309 - Certificate II in Furniture Making
    • LMF30202 - Certificate III in Furniture Finishing
    • LMF30302 - Certificate III in Furniture Making
    • LMF30402 - Certificate III in Furniture Making (Cabinet Making)
    • LMF30502 - Certificate III in Furniture Making (Wood Machining)
    • LMF32109 - Certificate III in Cabinet Making
    • MSF20213 - Certificate II in Furniture Finishing
    • MSF20313 - Certificate II in Furniture Making
    • MSF20516 - Certificate II in Furniture Making Pathways
    • MSF30113 - Certificate III in Furniture Finishing
    • MSF30213 - Certificate III in Furniture Making
    • MSF31113 - Certificate III in Cabinet Making
  • Glass and glazing
    • LMF20411 - Certificate II in Glass and Glazing
    • LMF30602 - Certificate III in Glass and Glazing
    • LMF30611 - Certificate III in Glass and Glazing
    • LMF31708 - Certificate III in Stained Glass and Lead Lighting
    • MSF20413 - Certificate II in Glass and Glazing
    • MSF30413 - Certificate III in Glass and Glazing
    • MSF40413 - Certificate IV in Glass and Glazing.

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, 2017 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 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 Furnishing Training package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2017 commencements
  • 2010 to 2017 completions 
  • 2017 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2017 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority and generic skills data have been extracted from the Furnishing IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.  

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2018, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2018, <https://www.burning-glass.com>.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2015 and June 2018 filtered by ANZSCO classification levels listed below. ANZSCO occupations have been used as industry filters because they provide more relevant job vacancy data for this sector.

  • 3941 Cabinetmakers
  • 3312 Carpenters and Joiners
  • 3933 Upholsterers
  • 8322 Product Assemblers
  • 1335 Production Managers
  • 3942 Wood Machinists and Other Wood Trades Workers.
Updated: 06 Dec 2018
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