Construction boom: More builders, specialists needed

A house under construction (file)
A third of the new consents were in Auckland - almost 10,000 (file)

The building industry is struggling to keep up with the booming number of houses being approved for construction.

On Monday the Government revealed more than 30,000 homes were consented in the year to October, a figure not seen since the 1970s.

"This is as fast as you can practically grow a sector as large and as complex as construction without compromising quality," said Nick Smith, who is from Tuesday the Minister for Building and Construction.

  • Home approvals through the roof

It's the fifth consecutive year numbers have increased, but it's caught the construction industry off-guard.

"We need to get people… particularly around the Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Northland regions," Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) chief executive Warwick Quinn told Newshub.

He says 10,000 apprentices are already on the job, but they can always do with more - especially if they have specialist knowledge and training.

"There's a greater amount of specialisation occurring out there now, so we need to make sure that whatever we provide from a training perspective aligns better with industry needs."

BCITO plans to do its bit by tailoring its teaching to encourage specialisation. The programme will be trialled next year, with the help of NZQA and the Tertiary Education Commission.

"You earn as you learn, can get into management and larger companies, and the prospects for construction over the next five years are very strong."

Dr Smith says the present boom is more sustainable than that of the mid-1970s, when inflation was high.

A third of the new consents were in Auckland - almost 10,000, up from 9000 in 2015.

Canterbury was also strong, but slowing due to the end of the post-2011 quake rebuild.