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It’s time to sort the pros from the cons

With the construction industry and housing activity showing little sign of slowing down, this exciting time of growth provides its own set of challenges.

At the forefront in 2017 for the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainayers Board (PGDB) will be ensuring those embarking on building or home renovation projects don’t pay the costly repercussions of using the wrong people.

New Zealand has been fortunate to have had a regulated plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying industry for more than 100 years. High-quality training means we have some of the most highly competent and qualified tradespeople in the world.

PGDB chief executive Martin Sawyers asks: “So, how do we protect the integrity of our tradespeople from those who bring the industry into disrepute by working unlawfully?

“Our public awareness campaigns and unauthorised work initiatives need to work harder,” he says.

In response to the current challenging environment, the Board has reinvigorated its public awareness marketing campaign. The idea is simple and works on many levels.

The main message of the new “sort the pros from the cons” campaign shows consumers how to choose the right people when building or renovating.

It highlights the importance of qualified tradespeople, and the need to eliminate risk by asking to sight a New Zealand Practising Licence before any work begins.

The advertising for the campaign has been created using different angles to get the message across. The main visuals show the licence card highlighting an authorised tradesperson, while pushing an unqualified person out.

The campaign emphasises that anyone can have tools or a van, but that doesn’t mean they a have the skills and experience required to do the job properly.

It reminds consumers that New Zealand homes have a complex network of pipes and fittings that mix high pressures, high temperatures, gas, electricity and many other high-risk hazards which are dangerous, and which could potentially put their health and safety and insurance under threat if handled incorrectly.

Messaging has also been targeted specifically at people who try to do it themselves, and provides clarification of what’s legal and what’s not.

The campaign has full media attention through TV advertising, print media, digital advertising on Stuff, The Herald Online, TV Ondemand, and TradeMe.

Youtube and email campaigns also play a part in spreading the word (see the full campaign at www.pgdb.co.nz/publications/card-campaign).

“Providing behaviour change quickly is hard,” Mr Sawyers says. “However, the campaign is already providing good results. In the early stages, it is exceeding the expected measures for its target audiences — and we plan to have this three-month summer campaign on repeat for the next two years.”

Tackling illegal operators through a strategy of joining forces is another one of the Board’s initiatives that is having an impact and responding to the unauthorised work challenge.

In October and November of last year raids on illegal operators netted 25. Investigators from the PGDB swooped on Auckland suburbs Millwater and Flat Bush. Both were targeted areas identified by the industry reporting illegal activity through the R.A.C (report-a-cowboy) mobile app.

Sixteen illegal operators not qualified to carry out restricted work were found in Millwater, and nine in Flat Bush, all of whom will be prosecuted in the District Court or penalised through disciplinary action by the Board.

In late 2016 the Electrical Workers Board (EWRB) joined the successful PGDB initiative, and added an electrical reporting component to the app.

Reports are beginning to emerge, identifying potential illegal activity in the electrical trade.

“More places throughout New Zealand will be targeted in 2017 that have been identified by practitioners who are joining forces with the Board and reporting illegal operators through the R.A.C app,” Mr Sawyers says.

“We encourage all industry tradespeople to download the R.A.C app at www.pgdb.co.nz, and assist in identifying, and holding to account, those people who are carrying out restricted work unlawfully and who put the public at risk.”

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