Grayson Allen, president of Hawke’s Bay Master Plumbers Association, says there’s a huge shortage of qualified tradesmen and apprentices in all trades nationwide and that was particularly evident in Auckland and Christchurch.

“But we’re also seeing a big shortage in Hawke’s Bay and that’s particularly true for plumbing and gas fitting,” he said.

Allen pointed to retiring baby boomer business owners and a reluctance by the region’s mainly small operators to absorb the cost of training in a competitive environment as reasons for the shortfall.

“They want their staff to hit the ground running, to be able to make money off them straight away. For most people in training, it will take them 18-24 months to break even. Prior to that they’re a cost on the business.”

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment statistics show 38 percent of businesses throughout the country employing staff in training.

“I don’t know what the figures are for Hawke’s Bay,” Allen said, “but it doesn’t bode well for the future. It doesn’t replace the attrition rate of people retiring, going overseas or moving into other areas of work. We need to have 50-60 per cent providing training.”

Hawke’s Bay Master Plumbers’ members employed 21 apprentices as of October 2016. That covered apprentices in years one to four of traded training.

Allen said an advantage of the pre-trade training programme offered by EIT was that students gained work experience.

“I’ve personally had a couple of EIT trainees,” he said of his company, Peak Plumbing and Gas Ltd.

“We want pretty switched-on applicants who have mechanical skills, have the ability to fault find and are problem solvers. Obviously they also need to be physically fit.”

Head of school for trades and technology Todd Rogers said the EIT pre-trades programme had achieved a 73 per cent completion rate since its launch four years ago.

Six of those achieving the Level 3 Certificate in Plumbing and Gasfitting in 2016 were now in apprenticeships while the remaining three were employed on 90-day trial contracts.

While the 33-week full-time programme was fully subscribed for 2017, Rogers said further enrolments would be considered and EIT would support further students as needed.




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