The economic outlook for New Zealand in the short to medium term seems to be constantly improving. We have decade-high migration figures, good commodity prices and the best balance of trade figures for 40 years.
Our growing domestic economy is tipped to grow by as much as 4% this year, and is expected to maintain a level above 2.5% for the next four years.
This is great news for our construction sector, which is bubbling along nicely with increasing demand and good forward workloads.
Most of our building companies are gearing up now by training apprentice carpenters and planning in anticipation of this demand, but there are serious concerns about how the subcontractor and design fraternities will cope.
Our members have expressed their frustration at having to wait an unacceptable amount of time for specialist trades to arrive on site and complete their work. The same problem is occurring with getting plans drawn and consented, or amendments submitted in a timely manner.
Everyone complains about not being able to get skilled staff but then they seem hesitant to train for whatever reason.
It’s disappointing that our builders are being let down by the very businesses that they supported with work during the recession.
It’s no secret that Registered Master Builders’ market share of the available work increased strongly during the lean times. The better builders were more available and, therefore, able to generate work for the rest of the industry. That loyalty should be remembered and reciprocated.
It seems that, in general, the subcontracting companies and designers don’t fully understand the skilled labour requirements they will need over the foreseeable future. They need to act now instead of getting overworked and stressed trying to keep up with limited resources.
To my mind, a solution is to strongly encourage our specialist trades and designers to take on apprentices and train young New Zealanders.
The forecasts are for at least four strong years of construction activity, which is the time it takes to train and develop an apprentice into a qualified tradesperson.
There is no doubt that we are facing very large workloads, but with the appropriate planning and team building our industry can deliver quality buildings in an acceptable time frame.