With a $100 billion construction boom now a reality, the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) is doing everything it can to recruit more people into construction apprenticeships.
Early in April the BCITO launched an edgy campaign aimed at raising general awareness of the incredible career opportunities now available in construction due to skills shortages across the country.
“Since 2012, our construction sector has grown by nearly 9%, in contrast to the wider economy which has grown around 2.5%,” BCITO chief executive Ruma Karaitiana says.
“This has never happened before, and construction is now one of the fastest growing parts of the economy, predicted to grow 3.2% per annum until at least 2017,” he says.
“The downside of this is that we are now very short of professional tradespeople, and there seems to be a lag in market response to opportunity.
“Sure we’re signing up more apprentices now, but most career seekers are behaving in the same way, going down the same pathways that they have been going down for decades. While nearly 30% of school leavers are going off to uni, less than 7% are taking up trade apprenticeships. We’re trying to change that.”
Mr Karaitiana says the BCITO is looking for motivated people in particular — those who are driven to succeed, and want to be future managers.
This means targeting career seekers who may well be considering more academic pathways, and putting BCITO messages in front of them.
“One of the key issues we’re really honing in on with this promotion is student loans. We’ve always been a little perplexed by the ‘elephant in the classroom’ that is the $14 billion of student debt plaguing many learners.
“The average domestic student’s debt in 2014 is up 57% on 2011, to almost $25,000. We’re trying to get the message out there that it doesn’t have to be this way. Our apprentices don’t have student loans — they have jobs.”
In fact, Mr Karaitiana says recent BCITO research shows that 98% of graduated BCITO apprentices are in full-time employment. Of these, 32% expect to progress into supervision or management in the next two years, and 27% see themselves starting their own business.
“Compare some of these numbers to other pathways, and we’ve got a very positive proposal. By comparison, only 56% of Bachelor degree graduates get a job in their first year after graduating. Now we just need to get the word out,” Mr Karaitiana says.
The BCITO’s “It’s Not” recruitment drive aims to do just that. It’s a tongue-in-cheek campaign underpinned by some real truths — challenging preconceived misconceptions of construction trades. Adverts will be placed in digital, outdoor and print channels.
“This is the biggest recruitment drive we’ve done in a long time,” Mr Karaitiana says.
“We are going to push a few boundaries, but in a fun way. In competing head on with other tertiary institutions, we are coming up against marketing budgets which are huge in comparison to our own. We hope that by pushing a few buttons we’ll attract attention, and hopefully draw public interest to what is a $100 billion issue.”