Construction sector welcomes Labour's boost to apprenticeship scheme but warns it isn't silver bullet

The construction sector is welcoming Labour's commitment to make its Apprenticeship Boost scheme permanent if re-elected.

The scheme - which pays employers to take on apprentices - was introduced as a COVID-19 measure and was set to end next year.

But the industry says it isn't a silver bullet.

Despite working in the pouring Wellington rain, apprentice carpenter Reece Plumtree wouldn't have it any other way.

"There can be ups and downs but overall I love it, I enjoy getting out there and getting my hands dirty," he said.

He got his job through the scheme which pays employers $500 bucks for the first two years of an apprenticeship.

Reece's boss says the scheme's allowed him to take on more young workers.

"We've used it for the past couple of years and it's been really good for retaining apprentices and employing additional apprentices," said Empire Building owner Hayden Parsons.

The programme was introduced during the COVID pandemic. It's supported 57,000 apprentices into jobs - nearly half of those into building. And Labour's promising to make the scheme permanent if re-elected.

"We're backing apprentices and we're backing their employers," Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.

Parsons reckons it'll encourage more young people into trades.

"It would be really good for apprentices coming through the scheme and for small businesses that're wanting more apprentices," he said.

But while Labour's election pitch is widely seen as a win for the trades, it's no silver bullet. The Registered Master Builders Association said more needs to be done to fill the job gaps.

"There will be times when we have to have responsive migration policies, we haven't had that in the past three years, we need to be more flexible about that," said Registered Master Builders Association CEO David Kelly.

"We are doing that, and so we are seeing significant workers coming through but we also have to do more to train locally," Hipkins said.

Because it's no secret New Zealand needs more houses and better infrastructure.