Back to the future: Heritage houses reborn

Ipswich students have the opportunity to make an important contribution to the preservation and transformation of some of Ipswich’s grand heritage homes with school-based apprenticeships.

The Building Futures Program pays high school students who are wanting to start a trade, to learn valuable skills and contribute to the renovation of heritage houses in need of repair.

The Ipswich program, an initiative of Apprenticeships Queensland and TAFE Queensland, has transformed three houses in the past three years and helped 135 students gain valuable skills in the construction industry.

Apprenticeships Queensland general manager Paul Hilberg (pictured) said this program creates job opportunities for Ipswich school leavers.

“The program enables young people to make a positive difference to the Ipswich community while building a rewarding career in the building industry,” Mr Hilberg said.

“The apprentices are paid industry rates for their work and from day one they are developing the skills, experience and connections required for a long career in the industry.”

TAFE Queensland South West general manager Brent Kinnane said they were proud to support the initiative which is allowing many students to gain practical skills that will make them more employable.  

“This project is helping young people in our local community gain in-demand, job-ready skills to develop their careers and achieve their goals,” Mr Kinnane said.

 Mr Hilberg said the program was designed on feedback from the construction industry who were asking for people with some experience.

“We wanted to build something that was wanted by the industry that works for everyone,” he said.

“There are a lot of amazing heritages houses that need a lot of renovation here in Ipswich.

“We take on projects that will help maintain the heritage look and appeal to the region.

“These really great old houses are either being removed, left to rot or changed in bits and pieces.

“By the time we are finished with a house, it will be renovated in keeping with all the heritage rules, with as many original features as possible and when our participants leave high school, they will leave with 52 days of experience on a worksite.”

The program also relies on local tradespeople and businesses helping out where they can.

Sometimes a house will be raised and built under as the aim is for a heritage house façade with modern living inside.

Every house has a long history with many stories to be told and sometimes the students feel like they are opening a time capsule when they open the front door.

“We renovated a house at Woodend that had been in the same family for a century,” Mr Hilberg said.

“There was no television or radio was present in the house that had been vacant for ten years.

“There were many books some dating back to 1935 when the last owner attended Sunday school.

“The kitchen still had the Crown wood stove (circa 1939) and downstairs the Pope Wringer (used for washing clothes).”

The program is always looking for skilled volunteers who can show the apprentices how it’s done and offer support and mentoring.

For more details click here.

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  1. The Building Future Project! How fantastic !
    I love this , how wonderful for our young people of Ipswich to be involved in a project such as this . You can’t buy a love for history, or Pride for your community, and real work life skills so valuable! Good on you Ipswich Council .
    Sincerely New resident loving Ipswich 💛

  2. Great innovation getting the school kids to have work experience under supervised tradies. They do a magnificent job in renovations. Really bring the old homes back to a new life.

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