In March 2014, the BCITO reported that the construction industry was still woefully short of apprentices, despite a massive 55% increase in new apprenticeship sign-ups in 2013.
Five months later and not much has changed, according to BCITO chief executive Ruma Karaitiana.
“Building and construction is a cyclical industry. Everyone recognises that it has its boom periods and it also has its quiet patches. This is the best time ever anyone could hope for to enter the industry,” Mr Karaitiana says. This applies across the board to all trades.
Surging construction activity accounted for two-thirds of the overall increase in GDP during the March 2014 quarter.
The 12% increase in construction activity during the quarter was driven by large lifts to residential and non-residential building activity.
With residential consent numbers around most of the country continuing to climb, and the non-residential rebuild in Canterbury gearing up, the construction sector will continue being a key contributor to growth throughout 2014.
Without a significant increase in trainee numbers, the construction industry won’t have enough trained professionals to cope with this increase in volume in the near future.
The value of commercial building work in the March quarter was up 91% from a year earlier, the strongest lift since 2004.
Nationwide, new dwelling consents are expected to increase by an average of 14% per annum over the three years to March 2017.
This build rate of 33,200 would be just less than the 2004 peak, but is backed up by projections indicating that further increases in residential construction are needed to meet underlying demand.
There was also very strong growth in office consents (up 112%) and retail consents, also up 48%, from the March 2013 quarter. Infometrics predicts that growth in commercial building activity will continue to at least 2.5% per annum during the next two years.
The BCITO urges employers in construction industries to take on apprentices now in order to curb an imminent skilled labour shortage.
Other good reasons to get new blood into the industry right now:
Apprentices learn from the boss or trainer on the job every day. They put in time “on the tools”, learn the ropes of the trade and work with clients and other tradespeople.
Assessment and support is provided by the BCITO. A designated training advisor will visit a few times a year and see how the apprentice is progressing. Some theory is required, and apprentices are supported by their employer and BCITO to help them reach their goals.
After recently merging with FloorNZ/DecorateNZ and the Joinery ITO, the BCITO is now the third-largest industry training organisation in New Zealand.
It now has coverage for apprenticeships and national qualifications in the following industries: Architectural Aluminium Joinery, Glass & Glazing, Brick and Blocklaying, Interior Systems, Carpentry, Kitchen & Bathroom Design, Concrete, Masonry, Exterior Plastering, Painting & Decorating, Flooring, Tiling and Frame & Truss Timber Joinery.
Working closely with industries to provide support and meet training needs into the future, the BCITO is geared up for an increase in trainee numbers, and is eager to hear from any employers ready to begin taking on extra capacity.
If you’re wanting someone young and fresh to help you out who’ll become a valuable member of your team and the industry, give serious thought to hiring an apprentice now. The BCITO may even be able to help you find the most suitable candidate.
* Eligibility criteria apply. See www.tec.govt.nz/learners-organisations/learners/learn-about/apprenticeships/ for full information.