The building trade has some bright young stars.

But we need more of them!

I’m talking about building apprentices.

Industry experts predict we’re going to need about 3000 more apprentices to meet growing construction demand.

So why do we have a shortage of apprentices and what can be done about it?



If you look at the numbers, in 2008 we had 9800 apprentices but now we’re down to 5000. The reason for this? The global financial crisis and the typical boom and bust cycle of the building industry.

As the NZ economy went into recession, many building companies had to make cutbacks in order to survive. And the first thing to go? Apprentices.

Ordinarily, the recovery from a recession (or bust) would be gradual. But the Christchurch Earthquakes and subsequent recovery created a sudden burst in demand. And we found ourselves with a shortage of skilled labour.

Fast forward to today and Auckland (and increasingly the country) finds itself with a housing shortage. So demand is outstripping supply. Because the building industry couldn’t support apprentices during the downturn we now find ourselves short of trained builders. And that’s unfortunate.

Add to this the fact that many senior builders of the baby boomer generation will be looking to retire over the next few years. Having builders coming up through the ranks is vitally important.



The Registered Master Builders Apprentice of the Year is currently being contested. I was privileged to sit on the judging panel for the Bay of Plenty Region earlier this month. What an impressive group of young people. Ambitious, conscientious, and skilled. Their talent and drive bode well for our industry.

The competition tests several aspects of a well-rounded apprentice, not just their skills on the tools. Competitions such as these offer great opportunities for participants such as:.

  • A chance to compare themselves against other apprentices to see how they stack up

  • Recognition of their skills, which is valuable for future employment opportunities

  • The process of preparing the entry form, being interviewed and a site visited is a great learning experience, and a chance to meet industry people



Training and growing keen young apprentices is a responsibility we as the building trade need to embrace. Yes, it can be time consuming and painful at times, but  you know what they say – no pain, no gain.

Here at Ezyline we currently have three apprentices in training as part of our permanent team. As Master Builders it’s important for us to put time back into training. But not only that, from day one these young folk contribute to our team. They work hard, they’re keen to learn, they have fresh ideas, energy, and stamina.

Our apprentices get to learn about on-site and off-site construction as we build both transportable and custom housing.



Building is a great career opportunity. Compared to other careers, the cost to get a trade qualification is low while the job prospects are high. Once qualified there are opportunities to gain more responsibility (and higher pay) as a manager, contractor or business owner.

According to Building and Housing Minister, Dr Nick Smith, we are looking at the longest sustained period of growth in construction activity in 40 years. This means increased demand for qualified professionals, and a shortage of people to meet that demand.


So the message is clear to builders. Take on apprentices. Invest in the future of the building industry and your business.

And to young people – take on an apprenticeship!


More about the Registered Master Builders Apprentice of the Year

More about Ezyline Homes