Bright future for learners entering construction sector

Even if gaining a ‘Trades’ qualification from Ara Institute of Canterbury may take a few years, graduate prospects seem brighter than ever.

According to an article published in The Christchurch Press this month, low mortgage rates, an overall shortage of housing stock and a lift in infrastructure spending have all contributing to a rampant housing market and great prospects for those entering the construction sector. Plus, increasing numbers of aspiring home-buyers are choosing to build a house instead of taking their chances in the cut-throat residential market.

“A record quarterly high in the number of new homes consented shows the residential building sector is responding to government support to get new houses built,” says the Hon. Poto Williams, Minister for Building and Construction on an online Beehive report dated February 4, 2021. This is borne out by figures from Statistics New Zealand released on February 4 which show that 11,291 new homes gained consents during the December 2020 quarter – New Zealand’s highest-ever quarterly number of consents granted.

For want-to-be tradespeople, the opportunity to gain their qualification for free through the government TTAF scheme has also contributed to a lift in figures for new apprenticeships and vocational students.

David Kelly from the Master Builders Federation, who was quoted in the Press article, says that the increase of apprenticeships and students was very positive, even if people won’t be available to work within the industry for a few years. Already growth throughout 2020 means that an additional 13,200 people have been employed in construction services nationally, including people working in areas such as plumbing and electrical services, roofing, and concreting.

In 2020, the number of filled jobs in construction rose significantly over the year, according to New Zealand’s quarterly employment survey (QES). This lift in construction jobs has been described as a key factor in the newly-lowered national unemployment rate – of the overall increase in 18,4000 filled jobs, 17,600 were in the construction sector.

To complement this good news, Andrew Neal from Statistics New Zealand noted in a recent website article on the organisation’s site that the organisation has evidence of: “Strong growth in the construction sector despite COVID-19”. He went on to add that the HLFS (household labour force survey) demonstrated that 21,000 people were being employed annually within the construction industry, of which 5,800 were women.

Dennis Taylor, head of Ara Institute’s Trade Department, says: “A growing awareness and appreciation of the opportunities afforded by a trades career pathway have contributed to an increase in demand for enrolments in trade-focussed programmes. The demand for new housing and the current opportunity to study for free all help people who are starting a career in Trades now to look forward to being in a very good position in the future”.

Students will usually begin at Ara with a pre-trade programme to get the core skills and knowledge for working as a trainee or apprentice. The Institute then supports learners as they undertake further training in their workplace.