Improved perception of the trades increases apprentice numbers

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Tioirangi Smith (second right) and SLC Builders Ltd were congratulated by Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa (centre) and BCITO chief executive Warwick Quinn (second left) with a presentation at SLC Builders’ current building site in Days Bay, Eastbourne, recently.

The number of Kiwis taking up construction apprenticeships has reached record high numbers.

The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) recently reached 13,000 apprentices in active training.

The BCITO’s 13,000th apprentice is 30-year-old Tioirangi Smith, who previously worked in hospitality and is now a carpentry apprentice for SLC Builders Ltd in the Wellington area.

“We are delighted to have such high numbers of apprentices joining,” BCITO chief executive Warwick Quinn says.

“This demonstrates that many Kiwis are seeing the fantastic opportunities provided by a career in the trades. However, we still need more to join.

“While our latest research shows that more parents, students and school leavers are becoming open to the trades, we’ve got a long way to go to reach the numbers required to meet skills demand.

“Our apprentices are setting themselves up for a bright future. Their jobs can be just as financially rewarding as getting a university degree, you can earn while you learn, and they offer a good work-life balance.

“The number of people open to a career in the trades has increased since last year’s research, particularly among women, Maori and Pasifika.

“As we celebrate reaching 13,000 active apprentices in training, it is clear we need to continue to excite students, school leavers and parents about opportunities in trade careers,” he says.

“Employment forecasts estimate 80,000 new and replacement construction jobs opening in the next five years. To fill this demand, we need more people to start formal training now.”

Apprentice Tioirangi Smith says he always wanted to be a builder.

“It was after I bought my first house that I decided to take the plunge and make the move. I aspire to renovate my own home, and I am now learning the necessary skills to achieve this,” he says.

“It’s an extremely rewarding career. The trades give you practical skills you can use every day, and you get to learn on the job rather than in the classroom.”