Some say more skilled workers are needed now, others warn the construction industry boom could peak(external link). Rising costs in the industry have been blamed on increased wages due to the worker shortage(external link) of which an estimated 30,000 workers are needed by 2019(external link) and if the demand cannot be filled who knows what next?
Despite all the media ‘to and fro’, the stats and numbers stack up, and the benefits of being in the trades industry are as rosy as ever.
To verify this, we spoke to Richard Mabbot, Construction Manager at Gibbons Construction(external link), for an insider’s view of the industry. We hope the information below helps you better understand the reality for construction workers. We also hope the insights offered helps you in your decision-making.
Richard said they are finally seeing 30 to 35 year olds coming through who are suitably skilled. This is due in part to places like NMIT bringing back apprenticeships and work placements, but for a while there, Richard says, ‘it was a bit of a hit and miss’.
“If you look at it in simple terms, you should see a bunch of people from 35 years down coming through as skilled workers. How many skilled trade workers? I’m not sure, but they’re definitely putting more through now. We are anyway.”
According to Richard the tender market is ‘not an easy game to play’ but he doesn’t blame it on the wages. “I would probably look more towards the regulations and health and safety. There’s a massive cost in health and safety compliance. Buying the timber and getting the builders I think you’ll find is not that expensive.”
It’s not always about training and qualifications for Gibbons. Richard personally picks out workers who also have the best personality and fit.
“Of the apprentices we’ve just taken on, one was a young guy in his mid-twenties who’d been opening mussels for the last three years. I thought if he can do that for three years he’ll make a good worker. For me personally, it’s more how people fit into the team environment. If you’ve got a large team of guys and you’ve got one [who doesn’t fit in] it’s hard work.”
“The days are gone where an employer says ‘this is what you do, this is when you go home, this is what we’re paying you’.” Gibbons Construction have a very wide range of employment contracts. “Because it is hard to get good workers we will work around our workers.”
“From a personal view, I can’t see it. I’m more in-line with Warwick Quinn(external link), if anything I believe it may level out.”
“Generally, I might have rose coloured glasses on, but the construction industry is a pretty good way to go if you’re not academically inclined. I didn’t even make 15 when I finished school but I’ve got into the construction trade and it’s got me all around the world working everywhere.”
Richard has worked on construction jobs in Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and Switzerland. “I’ve never been out of a job ,” he says. “I went and got a trade which is paying dividends now, so yeah. I’m happy.”
They’ve just taken on a quantity surveyor and a project manager who are both NMIT students. “We’ve also got a young lady and a young guy who have just come on in the design part. You name it, you can do anything you like.”
Richard personally hires many of the workers and values the relationship developed with NMIT. “Getting them out of NMIT they’ve already gained skills. They’ve done that year long programme first. They’ve got all the basic skills already so it’s a win for us. They’re all a bit further on. So that’s good.”
If planning and design is more your sort of thing, then check out the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (Civil Engineering) (Level 6).