The quest for new apprentices


By Tertiary Education Commission chief executive Tim Fowler


At the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) our mandate is to invest in and champion the value of tertiary education in all forms — from nano courses, to degrees, to on-the-job learning and trades training.

As the country experiences its biggest ever construction boom and other industries face significant growth, we are tackling the need for more apprentices head-on by funding trade careers programmes, and providing up-to-the-minute information on

Gateway is one of the TEC’s dynamic programmes for connecting secondary school students with local employers and industries that interest them.

We’re proud of the programme’s ability to give students the opportunity to experience real workplaces and help them gain practical skills and knowledge.

And for the businesses themselves, Gateway offers the chance to explore the benefits of workplace training or apprenticeships, particularly those small businesses with no previous exposure.

Programmes such as Gateway and Work Inspiration offer young people real-world interactions with employers and industry professionals — often sparking untapped skills and talent at a crucial point in their career — when making those first big job decisions.

Maori and Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT) is another valuable scheme the TEC is proud to invest in.

Its success as a targeted programme for Maori and Pasifika learners aged 16 to 40 years to gain level 1 to 4 qualifications — and from there to secure apprenticeships — is helping to produce rising talent across trade industries.

Since MPTT started in 2015, it’s helped more than 1432 trainees to learn a trade, and is looking for more women to join.

Around 50% of the working-age population in New Zealand is female — and MPTT’s 2020 goal is that 30% of their graduates are women.


Investing in and championing NZ’s growth industries

There’s no doubt that trades careers have seen a huge resurgence in response to significant industry growth, particularly in construction and infrastructure.

MBIE projections show around 56,000 more people will be needed in construction-related occupations in the next five years, taking the total number to more than 571,300 in 2022.

So, how do we attract this scale of people to trade apprenticeships? At the TEC, we do this in two ways — by investing in trainees, and championing national initiatives with solutions to the apprentice shortage.

Recently, Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) submitted their investment plans for 2018 and 2019. All demonstrated a strong commitment to respond to industry needs through the upskilling of existing workforces and training new staff.

The TEC has allocated $178.71 million to ITOs for 2018, with an additional $6.7 million available to support further growth next year.

We’re encouraged by the close work ITOs are doing with schools and tertiary education providers to provide programmes linked to Vocational Pathways, Trades Academies, Gateway and our DualPathways Pilot — the latter enabling school students to work towards a vocationally-focused industry qualification at level 2 or 3.

Through this collaborative approach to the education to employment pipeline, young New Zealanders are starting their journey in the trades early and developing essential industry skills.

And it doesn’t stop there. A significant amount of work is being done throughout New Zealand to promote the trades.


Skills Hubs

The Got a Trade? Got it Made! annual campaign is doing a stellar job in raising awareness of on-the-job training and apprenticeships, as are the new cross-government Jobs and Skills Hubs.

These Auckland-based Hubs are supporting recruitment and training in areas where there are sizeable projects that create jobs and opportunities to grow a skilled workforce. Right now, the focus is on servicing the needs of the construction sector in Auckland’s building boom.

Henderson-based Nick MacDonald is an example of someone who’s achieved many opportunities through the Hubs.

He was referred to the CBD Hub, and within a week was successful in securing a job in Wynyard Quarter Panuku Development (which leads the urban regeneration), and was then offered a BCITO apprenticeship with Wallace Construction after only three months with them.

The fact the Hubs have placed nearly 500 Aucklanders into employment, facilitated more than 2000 training opportunities, engaged with more than 80 Auckland companies and facilitated 32 apprenticeships, speaks to the headway being made to address the shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry.

Looking to the future, there are many exciting initiatives going full throttle to attract New Zealanders to apprenticeships and trades training, I am very optimistic about what we can jointly achieve.


Find out more:


DualPathways Pilot:

Work Inspiration:

Maori and Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT):