Builders celebrated emerging talent and discussed critical industry issues

More than 800 builders and industry stakeholders attended this year’s New Zealand Certified Builders (NZCB) Annual Conference and Expo in Wellington, which finished on Saturday. New Zealand’s top carpentry apprentice was named at the event, a celebration of emerging talent at a time when the sector faces a skills shortage among a number of other pressures. 

South Canterbury’s Marc Palmer, aged 21, won the coveted title in the national final of the NZCB Apprentice Challenge Sponsored by ITM on Saturday after competing against 18 other regional finalists from across the country. Lucile Richardson (21) from Waikato placed second, and Ryan Whitburn (27) from Otago placed third, from among a diverse line-up of finalists that represented the changing face of New Zealand’s trades, with a record number of women competing and a number of older apprentices who have started their carpentry career later in life. 

The event was part of a three day conference which presented an opportunity for attendees to look at the sector’s most pressing issues under the lens of sustainability – for the environment, their businesses and the trade itself. 

NZCB Chief Executive Grant Florence says the future-focussed event examined changes to the regulatory environment, pressures and trends in the residential housing market, innovations in the ‘green’ building space and the skills pipeline into the trade. 

“This is a challenging time for the sector, with pressures mounting in terms of building supplies and skills shortages, changing legislation, and concerns about climate change. Given the current policy focus on sustainability, that is something absolutely top of mind for building and construction industry stakeholders across the board and will be for the foreseeable future. 

“Sessions about zero-carbon building, passive housing and building waste minimisation were extremely well-attended. Consumer demand for these kinds of sustainable solutions is growing so it has been hugely encouraging to see NZCB member builders take a keen interest in them. In coming years they will be crucial for meeting client expectations by delivering high-quality builds using innovative green building techniques,” says Mr Florence. 

Given the large proportion of SMEs in NZCB’s membership base, there was a particular focus on the sustainability of individual businesses and keeping existing trade professionals in the sector. 

“This is an extremely busy time for the sector, and there are multiple pressures on builders and their clients alike. This is compounded by shortages of skilled tradespeople and supplies, so it is crucial for us to analyse and deeply understand these stresses to ensure the health and wellbeing of members of our industry is well looked after,” says Mr Florence. 

Key insights were delivered from new research by NZCB, Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) and Registered Master Builders (RMB) that analyses the tension points for builder-client relationships and the mental health impacts of these.