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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 over 87,500 businesses operating within the sector at June 2017, with more than 50% of businesses sole operators and almost 40% of businesses employing less than 20 people. Around 669,900 people were working in the sector in 2018.

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

  • Flooring technology
  • Furniture design and technology also known as furniture manufacturing
  • Furniture finishing
  • Glass and glazing, including designed glass
  • 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
  • Upholstery and soft furnishing.

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

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.

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Employment levels in the furniture manufacturing sector more than halved from 70,300 in 2002 to 32,800 in 2012. Since then, the employment level has fluctuated, growing to 46,400 in 2021. The employment level is projected to decline slightly to 41,700 by 2025.

Cabinetmakers make up approximately 31% of those employed in furniture manufacturing, followed by Carpenters and Joiners at about 11%. The employment level of Carpenters and Joiners is predicted to increase approximately 17% between 2021 and 2025 and remain largely steady for Cabinetmakers and Upholsters. It is projected to slightly decline in the other occupations within this sector.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments in Furnishing-related qualifications have declined from more than 21,310 in 2016 to 18,750 in 2018, before increasing in 2019. In 2020, program enrolments decreased to 19,880. The number of completions fluctuated between 2016 and 2020, with a significant decline from 4,810 in 2019 to approximately 3,710 in 2020.

Enrolments in subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program steadily decreased from 118,740 in 2016 to 107,440 in 2018, before increasing in 2019 and in 2020 to 113,950. Subjects not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program declined from approximately 2,650 in 2016 go 870 in 2019, before a sharp increase in 2020 to 1,840.

Program enrolments in 2020 were spread across the various qualification levels, with the highest proportion at the Certificate III level (38%), followed by Certificate II level (30%) and Diploma or higher (19%). More than half of all program enrolments were in Furniture qualification cluster (55%), followed by Design (28%). The most common intended occupations for Furnishing-related qualifications were Product Assembler (36%), followed by Cabinetmaker (25%) and Interior Decorator (24%).

Approximately 52% of qualifications were delivered by TAFE institutes in 2020, approximately a third (32%) by private training providers and 12% by schools. However, there was considerable variation depending on the different qualification. For example schools delivered almost 30% of Furnishing and related qualifications, private providers delivered over half (51%) of Design qualifications and TAFE institutes delivering nearly 70% of Glass and glazing qualifications. Overall, 62% of subject enrolments in Furnishing-related training was Commonwealth and state funded, with domestic fee for service arrangements accounting nearly another third (32%).

Queensland had the highest proportion of students (30%) enrolled in Furnishing-related qualifications, followed by Victoria (27%) and New South Wales (21%). Overall, 30% of training in this sector in 2020 was delivered in Queensland, following by 27% in New South Wales and 26% in Victoria.

Apprenticeship and traineeship commencements have fluctuated between 2011 and 2020, peaking in 2015 at approximately 3,040. In 2020, there were approximately 2,650 commencements, up from around 2,350 in 2019. Overall, the trend in completions is downward, with number of completions declining from 1,510 in 2011 to approximately 1,070 in 2020.

Approximately two-thirds of apprentices and trainees were training for the intended occupation of Cabinetmaker (65%), followed by Glazier (15%) and Floor Finisher (13%). New South Wales (32%) had the highest proportion of apprentices and trainees enrolled in Furnishing-related qualifications, followed by Victoria (27%) and Queensland (21%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s Data Builder.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

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 Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2018-2022 identified through consultation and research the following five priority areas for training package development:

  • 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, inclusive and small housing design.

Further, the Furnishing IRC and stakeholders identified learning agility/information literacy/intellectual autonomy and self-management as the top key generic workforce skills. Design mindset/thinking critically/systems thinking/solving problem skills and Communication/collaboration including virtual collaboration/social intelligence skills were also important.

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills were communication skills and being detail-orientated. The most advertised occupations were Carpenter followed by Cabinet Maker.

The Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2018-2022 found there are emerging roles in the areas of design and innovation, automation and robotics, trade and upskilling technical skills, and an increased need for multi-skilled workers.

The Skills Forecast reported an ageing workforce in the Furnishing sector was leading to growing shortages in some regional areas and in skilled occupations, such as glazing and niche sub-sectors such as piano tuning. There are also comparatively less women employed in many parts of the Furnishing sector.

Employers reported they were unable to find suitable applicants with sound science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, and some existing workers lack the digital skills needed to adapt to new technologies and require upskilling. Basic digital literacy is seen as of fundamental importance in the Furnishing sector, with the workforce requiring skills in new equipment used in manufacturing.

The Furnishing IRC is reviewing and updating the Glass and Glazing Unit of the MSF Furnishing Training Package. Industry feedback identified that fabrication, assembly and installation skills are critical for the glass and glazing industry and RTO delivery. The Case for Change highlighted the need to retain these essential skills for a glazier in the training package.

In response to new materials, technologies and workplace practices, the Furnishing IRC has identified the need to review and update two qualifications in Flooring, Glass and Glazing. The review will also include 30 existing units of competency and proposes to develop up to seven units to address issues raised by stakeholders in hybrid vinyl plank, carpet and polished concrete and terrazzo flooring.

To meet workforce upskilling demands and to reflect current and emerging industry skills, the Furnishing IRC is also reviewing selected Certificate III and entry-level pathways qualifications in Cabinet Making of the MSF Furnishing Training Package. The Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2018-2022 reported the Certificate III qualification was last reviewed in 2013 and job roles and tasks have since been significantly impacted by technology and globalisation. Further, research undertaken by the Western Australia Food, Fibre and Timber Industries Training Council identified an increase in demand for multiskilled workers in Cabinet / Furniture Making roles and an overlap between the Furniture Making, Timber and Composites Machining, Upholstery, and Furniture Finishing qualifications with the Certificate III in Cabinet Making.

In late 2020, the Australian Government released its Modern Manufacturing Strategy as part of its economic recovery response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Strategy aims to help manufacturers to scale-up, become more competitive and build more resilient supply chains. Investment is targeted to drive productivity and create jobs through six national manufacturing priority sectors, which reflect Australia’s competitive advantage.

In response to the Strategy, increasing changes in workforce skills requirements and ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19, the IBSA Group conducted an extensive series of research and consultation activities culminating in Scaling up: developing modern manufacturing through a skilled workforce. This report draws together insights (based around six main themes) from industry leaders on the challenges facing the manufacturing sector and proposes skills-focused responses to support the development of a highly skilled workforce to underpin the future of manufacturing in Australia. Further, it identifies the Furnishing sectors are important service providers to the building or expansion of resources sector sites, composites machining to medical products, defence and space industries, and in cabinet making, marine fit-out, and glass and glazing contribute to the construction of facilities.

Links and resources

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

IRC and skills forecasts

Furnishing IRC

 

Relevant research

Beyond Traditional Apprenticeship Training – Food, Fibre and Timber Industries Training Council (WA)

Cabinet Making and Pathways – IBSA Group

Flooring, Glass and Glazing  – IBSA Group

Glass and Glazing Unit Review – IBSA Group

Make it happen: The Australian Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy – Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Scaling Up: Developing Modern Manufacturing through a Skilled Workforce – IBSA Group

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australasian Piano Tuners and Technicians Association (APTTA)

Australian Cabinet & Furniture Association (ACFA)

Australian Furniture Association

Australian Resilient Flooring Association (ARFA)

Australian Timber Flooring Association

Australian Glass and Window Association

Australia Woodworking Industry Suppliers Association

Blind Manufacturers’ Association of Australia

Cabinet Makers Association of Western Australia

Carpet Institute of Australia (CIA)

Design Institute of Australia

Floor Covering Institute of Australia

Kitchen and Bathroom Designers Institute

National Security Screen Association

Picture Framers Guild of Australia

Interior Design Association

Specialised Textiles Association

Timber and Building Materials Association

Western Australia Furniture Manufacturers Association

Window and Door Industry Council

Window Coverings Association of Australia

 

Employee associations

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU)

Australian Workers’ Union

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU)

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal  

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit 251 Furniture Manufacturing, employment projections to May 2025
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2025
    • 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 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ06 - Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, viewed 1 August 2021, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2021

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit 251 Furniture Manufacturing, 2001 to 2021, 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 Packages
  • 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
    • MSF31018 - Certificate III in Interior Decoration Retail Services
    • MSF31313 - Certificate III in Kitchens and Bathrooms - Retail Services
    • MSF40113 - Certificate IV in Interior Decoration
    • MSF40118 - Certificate IV in Interior Decoration
    • MSF40213 - Certificate IV in Furniture Design and Technology
    • MSF40313 - Certificate IV in Design of Kitchens, Bathrooms and Interior Spaces
    • MSF40318 - Certificate IV in Kitchen and Bathroom Design
    • MSF50213 - Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration
    • MSF50218 - Diploma of Interior Design
    • MSF50313 - Diploma of Furniture Design and Technology
    • MSF60113 - Advanced Diploma of Interior Design
    • MSF60118 - Advanced Diploma of Interior Design
  • Furnishing and related
    • LMF10102 - Certificate I in Furnishing
    • LMF10108 - 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
    • MSF30518 - Certificate III in Picture Framing
    • MSF30613 - Certificate III in Soft Furnishing
    • MSF30713 - Certificate III in Upholstery
    • MSF30818 - Certificate III in Flooring Technology
    • 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
    • MSF30418 - Certificate III in Glass and Glazing
    • MSF40413 - Certificate IV in Glass and Glazing
    • MSF40418 - Certificate IV in Glass and Glazing
    • MSF50118 - Diploma of Stained Glass and Leadlighting
    • MSM30418 - Certificate III in Fenestration.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 subject enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 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:

  • 2011 to 2020 commencements
  • 2011 to 2020 completions 
  • apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2020 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

 

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2021, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2021, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2018 and June 2021 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: 21 Jan 2022
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