BCITO’s 12,000th apprentice paints a bright future


The number of Kiwis engaging in construction apprenticeships is at record highs, as the industry’s demand for skilled workers continues to surge.

The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) now has 12,000 apprentices actively training at the same time. This is its highest number ever, but it still needs more.

“12,000 apprentices in training is a record number for the BCITO. But it isn’t nearly enough,” BCITO chief executive Warwick Quinn says.

“We need many more people to enter the industry and start formal training now if we are to have a hope of reaching targets which will make a small dent in the sector’s skills shortages.

“Our apprentices are setting themselves up for a prosperous and rewarding future, and it’s never been a better time to enter the industry and trade up.

“Employment forecasts for the construction sector which the BCITO covers suggest there will be 37,100 new and 44,500 replacement job openings in the next five years,” Mr Quinn says.

In addition, the recently released National Construction Pipeline Report predicts construction activity to remain at its current elevated levels until the end of 2020, with sustained growth expected from 2021 to over $41 billion in 2023.

Mr Quinn says the construction sector must diversify and attract more women, Maori, Pasifica and Asian workers.

“The record low birth rate in 2003 means the number of school leavers today has never been lower, and this is adding pressure to an already stretched sector.

“We have a small window of four to five years to address some of our concerns before birth rates plummet to record lows. So, if you think we have a skills shortage now, just you wait.”

Meanwhile, the BCITO’s 12,000th apprentice, 21-year-old Cherie Stewart, is painting her way to a brighter future.

Employed by Auckland-based painting and decorating business Profile Property Services Ltd, Ms Stewart was eligible for the first two years of her painting and decorating apprenticeship “fees free”.

Her new career not only makes financial sense — it’s also a lot of fun.

“We work as a team and have a bit of banter. Plus, I know that I’m embarking on a career which will enable me to Earn and Learn without racking up a student loan,” Ms Stewart says.

The number of employers who are offering formal training through the BCITO has also reached record highs, with 15.3% growth in the past two years.

Profile Property Services Ltd owner Paul Eaton has taken on four apprentices, and encourages others to do the same. He says an apprenticeship was a condition of Ms Stewart’s employment.

“Cherie is really reliable and willing to learn. She has a lot of potential, and we wanted to put her on a path to a successful career with a secure and well-paid future.

“BCITO apprenticeships offer wrap-around training and support which ensures she is working to industry best practice, and her skills are recognised. It also ensures our clients get a quality result,” Mr Eaton says.