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Demand for apprentices up as construction increases

Saturday 26 Jan 2013 5:21 p.m.

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The building industry is hoping it's turned the corner after several years of struggling in Auckland. New figures show a boom in the number of builders looking for apprentices.

Ben Bersma's boss put his faith in the carpenter while he worked through his apprenticeship. They faced some lean times together, but it paid off.

Last year, as Mr Bersma came to the end of his training, he was named Auckland Apprentice of the Year.

“He has stuck with me for the last four years and work has been pretty tight sometimes, but he has managed to keep a bit of a flow for us,” says Mr Bersma.

And it's getting easier, with reports of builders being snowed under with work.

“In terms of all types of building, from commercial to renovations and new builds, I think it's definitely picked up a consistent flow now and a lot of contractors that I'm talking to are starting to get a good flow of work.”

That was reflected in new figures from the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation.

It reported a 70 percent increase in the weekly demand from builders in Auckland for apprentices, compared with the previous quarter.

“We're definitely seeing that rise in confidence as they see more work ahead of them,” says Ruma Karaitiana, of the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation. “That's coming partly out of recession; it's partly about the pressure on existing housing in Auckland, and it's also partly about the access to finance.”

The problem now is a finding an apprentice. There are only around 5000, and the Building and Construction ITO says 8500 will be needed.

It's hoped the Government's plan to pay new apprentices $2000 will speed up recruitment. But there are concerns some people will delay signing up until the scheme begins in April.

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