Construction – How a booming industry can open its doors to young New Zealanders

You only have to read any job forecasting report to know the construction industry is buoyant, with Seek construction job ads for May up by almost 40% in Auckland alone.

The latest findings from The National Construction Pipeline Report (MBIE, 2016) confirms the sector is experiencing steady growth.  New Zealand Institute of Building (NZIOB) Chief Executive Malcolm Fleming is positive about the prospects, saying the $30 billion a year forecast for the foreseeable future will create good job security for those entering the industry.

“Employers can take on young people straight from school or from their local polytech pre-trade course and give them a shot at becoming a fully qualified tradesperson.  With mentoring and support, the opportunities for apprentices to move upwards into supervisory positions to management, and even owning their own business are real,” says Mitch de Vries, Careers New Zealand General Manager – Education to Employment

BCITO says the benefits of hiring an apprentice are twofold.  It allows you to develop your workers’ skills according to your standards and is an investment in growing both your business and the industry. Currently more than 5400 employers across New Zealand train apprentices.

“The construction industry is a sector that has opened its doors to young people through apprenticeships and on-the-job training.  We’re working closely with industry partners to showcase the outstanding growth opportunities and connect upcoming talent with employers,” says Mitch.

A ‘behind the scenes’ view of work 

In June, Careers New Zealand and NZ Institute of Building brought over 30 teachers, advisors and industry representatives together for an Industry Big Day Out.

Designed to give them a behind the scenes look at careers within Auckland’s fast-growing construction industry and to help them understand the diverse roles and pathways available, the event showcased the $1 billion dollar Wynyard Quarter Redevelopment project, and involved visits to global design agency AECOM and industry supplier Metro Glass.

Twelve young people shared their experiences of how they found a pathway into the industry – whether through a trade training programme or professional degree in architecture or engineering.

And what advice did these young employees have for students choosing what industry to get into?

“Work experience! Before you take on a course – go and see a day in the life of a workplace first.”

“This is sound advice from those new to the industry and supports Careers New Zealand’s initiatives to create real-world work experiences for a smoother transition from education to employment,” says Mitch.

Industry Big Day Out events are also run for young people.  If you’re interested in getting involved, please get in touch.  We’d love to have you on board.     

Showcasing your industry through Work Inspiration and Gateway 

One initiative that’s helping young people get a taste of how businesses and industries run, is a new employer-led work exploration programme called Work Inspiration.

Piloted by Toyota, Westpac and Grow Wellington, findings indicated a number of key benefits for the businesses that took part.

“Employers found it helped them connect directly with schools and young people who might be interested in their business. It also boosted staff morale having young people showing interest in their jobs.  For construction companies, it would help to attract much-needed new blood to the industry,” says Mitch.

Mitch believes there is a lot of potential for the construction industry to tap into the talent young New Zealanders possess.

“Work Inspiration allows a business to really showcase their industry and its career options, so they can attract motivated young people who are the best fit for their industry.  Career development opportunities are critical for any business and the future workforce.”    

Another programme giving secondary school students the chance to experience a real workplace is Gateway, funded by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).  BCITO runs a Gateway programme based on theory and practical work.

Find out how to get involved in Work Inspiration at or in Gateway at

Trades Academies – connecting students with trades

Another avenue for young people and employers to connect are Trades academies, which deliver trades and technology programmes to secondary students through partnerships between schools, tertiary institutions, ITO’s and employers.

Students in years 11 to 13 are able to combine study at a trades academy with studies towards their National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) and a nationally transferable tertiary qualification Level 1, 2 or 3. It is expected that students could achieve an award in at least one of the Vocational Pathways for NCEA Level 2.

Find out more at and

Helping young people build the skills for success

Employers play an important role in helping support their young apprentices through their career journey.  Young people become well rounded employees when they are given guidance about the types of employability skills employers want to see in those entering their industry.   

He Toki Ki Te Mahi is a trust that supports Māori apprentices in the construction industry and Manager Hemi Inia says for those rangatahi keen on entering the industry it’s very important to have employability skills like resilience, the right attitude, the drive to be the best at what they do and to show up for work on time.   

Hemi outlines all these skills and more in Māia – a new Careers New Zealand video series showing opportunities for rangatahi to work in Māori businesses.

“We’re sharing Hemi’s tips to help young people recognise the skills they already have and to help them effectively market themselves to employers,” says Mitch.


Creating a population of well qualified kiwis

“There’s a vital role for employers in helping young people to know themselves, explore opportunities and make choices and decisions.  With the fast pace nature of work today, people want to have career progression and work for a business they’re proud to be part of,” says Mitch.

Consider following the two steps below to upskill and mentor your new recruits through their journey.

1. Start having career conversations

It’s useful to have career conversations with the young person when they’re first being inducted into your business.  This will help set employer and employee expectations for the job, creating a smooth transition for both of you.

“It’s also beneficial for you to talk to employees about their career ideas and the opportunities available to develop the skills they need. By doing this you’ll build loyalty to your business, lift performance and earn a reputation as an employer of choice,” says Mitch.

2. Talk to employees about the opportunities you can provide

Employees find job satisfaction and career success through a range of opportunities – not everyone is looking for progression upwards. Some starter options to consider providing are:

• feedback to help employees recognise their skills and personal qualities

• literacy programmes and support to complete qualifications

• coaching in an area where they lack experience

• project work to build their experience

• buddying opportunities to help show different roles or approaches

• job rotation to take on other roles outside of work that will build their skills.

Visit to help you prepare for career conversations.

Interested in finding out how to connect your business with young people?

Call us on 0800 222 733 or email to talk through the options. 

Photo courtesy of BCITO.

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