More than 350 young people have signed on as building
apprentices since a $2000 bonus became available last
Wednesday for the first 10,000 apprentices who sign up.
Another 60 have already signed up with the Skills
Organisation for specialist trades such as plumbing,
drainlaying, roofing, scaffolding and rigging.
The bonuses - $2000 each for apprentices and their employers
in "priority" building-related trades and $1000 each in other
trades - were due to start from April 1 to boost training
nationally for the rebuilding of Christchurch.
Employment Minister Steven Joyce brought the start date
forward to last Wednesday after training bodies reported that
many employers were holding back until after April 1 to get
The rush since last Wednesday means the 10,000 bonus places
may now all be snapped up this year, rather than continuing
into next year as the Tertiary Education Commission
"Apparently their initial estimates were that it would take
about 18 months, but because of the uptake they have reduced
that time period to about 12 months," said Industry Training
Federation policy manager Shaun Twaddle.
Building and Constructing Industry Training Organisation
chief executive Ruma Karaitiana said he aimed to sign up 4000
of the 10,000 new apprentices this year in his sector alone.
"The Government is expecting the 10,000 places will last till
the first quarter of next year. I doubt that. I think, if
this is the response in the construction sector only, we
might see them all used up by the end of this year."
He said 351 signed on in the first three working days after
the March 6 starting date, compared with about 200 a month
If he signs up 4000 by year's end as expected, building
apprenticeships will be back to their pre-recession peak.
He said almost all the new signups were split evenly between
Christchurch and Auckland.
"We do have reasonable levels out of Waikato and Taranaki as
well, but provincial New Zealand is definitely not picking up
He has a waiting list of 600 young people seeking
"As soon as an employer contacts us we have someone to match
them pretty well straight away," he said.
"This is a great time for a young person to be thinking about
entering the industry, and for employers, if they are
thinking about taking on an apprentice some time in the
future, this is the time to do it.
"The other reality is that everybody will be looking for
people at the same time so it's definitely the early bird
catches the worm."
Garry Fissenden of the Skills Organisation, which trains
apprentices in specialist trades, said his agency had signed
60 new apprentices since March 6.
Tim Densem of the Electricity Supply Industry Training
Organisation, another priority area qualifying for the $2000
bonus, said new subdivisions normally accounted for about a
third of his sector's work and trainee numbers were still 30
per cent below pre-recession levels, with about 100 young
people on his waiting list.
"The Government, and the country, are paying for unemployed
young New Zealanders who are not being trained, and companies
just say, 'I'll go across to the Philippines and bring in
someone who is a trained worker,"' he said.
"This will change that. It will help them take on
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- Simon Collins of the NZ Herald