Over the past few years, the number of apprentices in the New Zealand construction industry has decreased to nearly half of what it was in the boom years.
In 2012 the number hit rock bottom, falling well below 5000 apprentices. It’s great that things are finally turning around, but the BCITO is finding some employers are now struggling to find an apprentice to fit their requirements.
The recovery is certainly leading the way in Auckland and Christchurch, which is where most new apprentices are signing up. This isn’t to say that things aren’t happening in other areas too — it’s just not quite at the same level. And the industry can look forward to a recovery across the country over the next few years.
The number of people going into new apprenticeships is certainly an indicator for better times. The BCITO is particularly excited about this as the volume of new apprenticeships in 2013 has surpassed anything experienced over the past few years.
So this is not a seasonal blip in the data — things are seriously happening out there. In the year to April, there has been a 22% increase in new BCITO apprenticeships compared to last year.
Usually at this time of year things start winding down into winter. In 2013, this drop has been relatively minor, and the BCITO is still taking calls from plenty of employers who need more and more apprentices to cope with upcoming demand. It seems that not even winter will slow this recovery.
In 2011 the BCITO introduced a new “job-matching” service to help find new apprentices for BCITO employers. Since late 2012 the organisation has been flat out taking calls from employers looking for new apprentices — another encouraging sign. However, it seems the laws of supply and demand are staring to swing, and apprentices are becoming increasingly hard to find.
Many employers contacting the organisation are disappointed to hear that anyone with building experience is already employed in the industry. This means most are now taking on younger people who are “green”, with little or no experience.
Finding suitable apprentices with the right attitude is, therefore, really important, and even these people are now in short supply in Auckland and Christchurch.
Those contacting the BCITO looking for an apprentice can expect to wait at least a week — and sometimes longer — before anyone suitable is found.
The BCITO is also actively promoting its trades-to-career seekers so that it has a pool of people with a great attitude to get into training.
If you are an employer and need a new apprentice, contact the BCITO on 0800 422 486. Suitable apprentices are being found for employers within a week or two , although there are no guarantees.
* In certain areas!