Skill shortage critical

It’s no surprise that a shortage of skilled people has been identified as the most critical challenge facing the scaffolding industry in a recent survey sent out to members of the Scaffolding, Access & Rigging NZ Inc (SARNZ).

“Like most sectors involved in construction, we have a lack of skilled people available to meet the current demand,” says the association’s chief executive Graham Burke.

Of concern is the number of new companies that are “flooding” the market without the necessary experience or industry knowledge, he says.

“Since the Working at Heights campaign kicked off two years ago, the profile of the industry has grown in line with the demand from the market. This has encouraged some companies to charge in, in search of an easy dollar, without understanding the risk profile of the industry.”

Some new operators have even entered the market unaware they need someone on their team with a Certificate of Competence, as well as a person qualified to carry out weekly scaffold checks.

“They have to go to the market to find these qualified staff, who are already in short supply. This puts extra pressure on the labour market and the established companies that are already struggling to keep up with demand.”

Companies starting without the right people can find themselves “in quite a bit of trouble” says Graham.

“This is where clients can start to have issues as well. Using a SARNZ member will definitely mitigate that risk.”

Graham is quick to point out these concerns are definitely not true of every start up, but he is aware of some “unsophisticated” operations without the correct systems and processes in place when they were established.

His advice for anyone thinking of entering the scaffolding industry is to ensure they are fully aware of what they will need in the way of equipment, vehicles, storage, and most importantly skilled staff before they commence work.

“It is critical that any operator in the New Zealand scaffolding sector is working to acceptable industry standards. Clients should also be looking at the scaffolding companies they work with to ensure they meet these standards and have people with the right qualifications in place, to ensure the safe delivery of a quality product and service. Using a SARNZ member assures of all these requirements are met,” he adds.

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