Major campaign targets skilled British tradespeople for work in New Zealand

A major campaign has been launched in Britain to recruit new skilled tradespeople to New Zealand.

An estimated 60,000 new construction workers are needed over the next five years. Source: 1 NEWS

It's estimated New Zealand will need around 60,000 new construction workers over the next five years to fulfill both the Government's construction plans as well as private developments.

But as Kiwi builders say, a local construction workforce is equally pressing.

"We need these people now otherwise construction is going to be constrained and the economy will be constrained," Masters builders chief executive David Kelly says.

It's hoped the post-Brexit uncertainty in Britain will be a happy hunting ground for an industry here crying out for skilled workers.

Downer construction is just one of the Kiwi companies who are part of the campaign.

"We've got opportunities right now. We've got construction manager roles, we've got got contract manager roles, we have roles spread from Bluff to Whangarei," Downer Construction's Craig West says.

The Government's plan to build 100,000 new homes over the next 10 years is only adding to the pressure.

Immigration New Zealand is promising to fast track visas for the right workers, but experts say we need to look locally as well.

Only one in 10 businesses take on apprentices, and Master Builders say that needs to change quickly.

"We do need building companies to take on more apprentices, there's no question about that," Mr Kelly says.

Right now there's around 11,000 apprentices in training - the majority carpenters.

But Master Builders say that number needs to double.

A group of young builders today vying for apprentice of the year, already know their future is assured.

"There's a heap of building work at the moment and a huge shortage of apprentices," apprentice Olivia Ward says.

Another apprentice, Logan Alderson says "there's so many opportunities, the industry is growing".

Ironically, that's why training institutions say many youngsters are side-stepping apprenticeships for short term, higher paid labouring jobs.

"It's purely money. I mean, if there's a job there, you'll go and take it," Manukau Institute of Technology's Paul Hollings says.

But the current crop of building apprentices say it's about playing the long game.

"This is what we plan to do for the rest of our lives so if you go and be a labourer, you're not furthering your career at all," Logan Alderson says.

"You need to get qualified."