New Zealand construction apprenticeships reach record high

New Zealand’s number of building and construction apprentices in active training has reached a record high of 13,000.

The main provider is the Building & Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO). “We are delighted to have such high numbers of apprentices joining up. This demonstrates many are seeing the fantastic opportunities provided by a career in the trades. However, we still need more to join,” said BCITO chief executive Warwick Quinn,. “While our latest research shows that more parents, students and school leavers are becoming open to the trades, we’ve got a long way to go to reach the numbers required to meet skills demand.

“Our apprentices are setting themselves up for a bright future. Their jobs can be just as financially rewarding as getting a university degree, you can earn while you learn, and they offer a good work-life balance.”

Minister for building and construction Jenny Salesa visited Eastbourne in Wellington to present the BCITO’s 13,000th apprentice, Tioirangi Smith of SLC Builders, with a certificate. “I want to congratulate Tioirangi,” she said. “He has made a fantastic choice to take up a trade in the face of a huge pipeline of upcoming work.”

Smith said he always wanted to be a builder. “It was after I bought my first house that I decided to take the plunge and make the move. I aspire to renovate my own home and I am now learning the necessary skills to achieve this,” he said. “It’s an extremely rewarding career. The trades give you practical skills you can use every day and you get to learn on the job rather than in the classroom.”

Salesa said that the government is committed to reversing the long-term decline in trades training. “It’s excellent to see more people earning and learning in building and construction where we’ve had a persistent skills shortage,” she said. “New Zealand needs more tradies.”

Recent initiatives to encourage uptake include:

an increas in Trades Academy places;
a commitment to a new centre of excellence for vocational education for the construction sector to drive innovation;
support for the future of the industry through the Construction Sector Accord and the Construction Skills Action Plan;
creation of the NZ$2,000 (£1,000) Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Awards for the top vocational student in every secondary school in the country.

“With residential building consents at their highest level since 1974, at 36,446, and the Government’s plan of record infrastructure investment including building classrooms for more than 100,000 kids, more state houses than any government since the 1970s and more road and rail than the previous government, we need more apprentices like Tioirangi,” said Salesa. “Construction activity is expected to hit $43.5 billion before 2024, with 80,000 new and replacement construction jobs needing filling over the next five years. The sector currently employs 240,000 New Zealanders.

“An apprentice scheme can only succeed with the backing of employers, industry bodies, government, and the apprentices themselves and their families. We are doing all we can to get more people into the trades, to plug the skills gap we have. This 13,000th apprentice is a great sign our work is paying off.”