'The industry's still tarnished with that dirty brush' - panelbeaters cry out for apprentices

An Auckland panelbeater says despite there being plenty of work available for young people, there is still a stigma attached to the industry.

More than 600 apprentices are needed over the next three years to cope with new car registrations and collisions. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand is facing a shortage of panelbeaters, with more than 600 apprentices needed over the next three years.

The country has the fourth highest level of car ownership in the world, and numbers are growing.

There are more than three million private vehicles on the road, meaning more to be involved in prangs and crashes.

Despite screaming out for staff, panelbeaters say there is an unfair perception about the industry.

"The industry's still tarnished with that dirty brush and when parents see their children wanting to get into the industry, they sort of look at some of the business that aren't up to the standard that we have our business at and they shy away from it," Allan Le Noel of Hauraki Paint and Panel said. 

The industry, which is offering scholarships as an incentive, says working conditions are safer, and there is also the attraction of cutting edge technology to learn about.

"What we're seeing now days is that cars are way more complex than they use to be, full of electronics and crash mitigation stuff," Neil Pritchard of the Collision Repair Association said.

An apprentice will earn the minimum wage, but after going through three or four years of training, pay can move above $30 an hour.