Getting into a great trade has long been a recipe for a stable and rewarding career, and across just about every NZ trade and apprentice programme the demand for new young workers has never been higher.
One industry with a massive need for new workers is the building and construction sector. Every day we hear about the need to build more housing in parts of the country, particularly in Auckland, and the reason most commonly given for lack of progress is the shortage of qualified construction workers.
The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) has taken up the challenge to recruit new apprentices. On July 7, more than 1000 high school students from 127 schools all over the country visited construction-related workplaces as part of the second nationwide Big Construction Tour.
The day involved building site and factory tours for students in 14 cities and towns, sharing these visits across facebook and other social platforms. Students not only saw parts of the construction industry close up, they also learned about the wide range of opportunities a career in the trades could offer them.
BCITO Chief Executive Warwick Quinn believes that across the 15 trades his organisation runs training for there is perhaps a 30% shortage of apprentices being trained.
“Our country needs more young people to learn the skills and attributes that are in such high demand,” he told Radio New Zealand. “School leavers who decide they want to start an apprenticeship can be confident they won’t struggle to get work, there are so many great opportunities,” Quinn says.
The BCITO estimates an extra 3000 apprentices are needed to fill the skills shortage as the building industry continues to boom, and they are keen to see young women joining up.
There is support from Government to boost numbers as well. In May it was announced that an additional $14 million would be spent recruiting and training up to 5000 additional apprentices over the next four years. On top of that, a further $9.6 million was allocated to helping young Maori and Pasifika students into apprenticeships.
One obstacle facing industry training organisations as they try to recruit is the perception of some parents and teachers that university is the only option for a student. The Big Construction Tour on July 7 is a step to break down that stereotype.
If you are willing to learn, willing to front up to work each day with a good attitude and ready to work hard, getting into an apprenticeship could be the best step you take as a school leaver.
View reports and images from the 2016 Big Construction Tour on facebook