So we can’t simply lean against the shovel and hope for the best — the reality is that we are not going to get (much) help from overseas.
It seems inevitable then that our industry capacity will fall short in the interim, but this doesn’t have to be the case down the track. If we take a long-term outlook, rebuilding Christchurch and leaky building remediation isn’t going to happen overnight — it will take years.
About four years of intensive training is needed to produce a builder from scratch, so we have the opportunity to gear up for the future.
As with most career paths, the majority of new people entering the industry do so from high school. The BCITO has had to fight hard to attract young talent into the building industry, as our youth are increasingly attracted to more academic pathways.
So when work does pick up, the BCITO has a big challenge to not only attract more school leavers than ever before, but to also attract smart, motivated people who can work in an industry which is becoming more complex and professional every day. So how do we do this?
For starters, the BCITO is putting more focus back on schools. From a year of an industry-driven approach, it’s time to start making young people aware of the awesome opportunity in front of the building industry.
Those giving career advice need to understand that bright and motivated people who enter the trades usually end up as business owners with long, successful careers, and with lifestyles that most corporate professionals could only wish for. So the challenge becomes more than simply promoting trades to schools — it’s about repositioning our industry as a profession worthy of consideration next to more academic pathways.
And the industry is becoming more professional anyway. Licensing takes effect from March 2012, ensuring New Zealand builders undertake continual professional development.
The trades are also becoming increasingly complex, with innovation and technology shaping the future. Christchurch is a game changer, where we will need smart, switched on people to ensure buildings can withstand their environment. This will take precision, dedication, lateral thinking and, above all else, professionalism.
The BCITO is certainly going to lead this charge to ensure we get the best candidates possible for the industry, and we have a number of initiatives in the pipeline to make this happen.
But it is the industry itself which also has a part to play — we need to demonstrate the industry’s worth to society and the immense knowledge and skill within it.
The BCITO recently held a building site tour in Christchurch for school principals and careers advisors. They were blown away with the complexities and challenges faced on some of the commercial sites. As an industry, this is the reaction we need.
We believe that a bit of demonstration will go a long way and, hopefully one day, we will get to a point where professions in building will attract more young talent than ever before.