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Bright futures ahead for graduate tradies

New graduate apprentices are entering the workforce with better prospects than ever says the Chief Executive of one of the country’s largest apprentice training organisations, ATT (Apprenticeship Training Trust).

The comment was made at the recent Christchurch graduation of 19 apprentice plumbers, electricians, gasfitters and drainlayers, who received graduate certificates and awards for excellence. The Christchurch graduation followed an earlier event in Auckland where 42 apprentices graduated.

The apprentices are part of ATT’s managed apprenticeship scheme, a national programme recruiting, employing and placing apprentices with host businesses who have helped them learn their trade over 4-5 years of an apprenticeship.

ATT provides trade training opportunities for Kiwis and delivers quality tradespeople to the construction industry. It is the largest employer of plumbing apprentices in New Zealand.

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Helen Stephens, Chief Executive ATT, says the graduation has given the South Island’s construction skills gap some relief, while those entering the workforce fully are looking forward to a challenging and exciting future:

“The construction sector is booming, our population is growing but the skills gap continues to widen with an estimated 80,000 more people needed in the sector overall across the country, during the next five years - the result is our apprentices will be sought after.

“This lack of supply over demand bodes well for their long term careers. They are already well set up having earned through their training, and have the prospects of being a busy employee, or a business owner and leader in the future.

“On the other side of the coin, our host businesses have benefited from having an enthusiastic apprentice in their team, and many of them will stay with their host for years to come, helping the business to grow and develop as a result,” she says.

Recent research shows tradies by the age of 28 have earned $165,000 more than Bachelor degree peers, when at the same time most Uni graduates are still paying off student debt and have some years to go. This extra earning capacity helps pay for house deposits, build up Kiwisaver, settle down and enjoy leisure pursuits.

“Being a tradie is hard work but there’s plenty of gain, especially in a market crying out for their skills,” she says.

The need for more Kiwis to pick up the tools is supported by the Government’s recent announcement of a $2,000 scholarship to the top vocational student in every high school nationally, to be put in place by the end of this year.

Another sign of the Government’s support was the recent announcement by the Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, and Building and Construction Minister, Jenny Salesa, of a Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) for the construction sector.

Helen Stephens added there is also a need for more women to enter the trades:

“While we need more apprentices overall, we also want more women to see this as a career opportunity,” she says. “Women bring balance, and a different way of working or perspective to a team - there’s a huge opportunity for women in this space.”

ATT is sponsored by Plumbing World, Dux, Rheem, The Skills Organisation, Toolware and GWA Group.

ATT is a registered charitable trust that recruits, employs and places apprentices into ‘host’ businesses in the plumbing, gasfitting, drainlaying and electrical trades. ATT calls this a ‘managed-apprentice model.’