Tradie shortage hits the Waikato
There is a tradie shortage in the Waikato.
And with thousands of houses being built in the region - and thousands more waiting to go up - it's just going to get worse.
Employers partly blame high schools, saying they don't promote trades as a viable career path.
Schools are creating a stigma - that if you are bright, you should go to university, CF Reese Plumbing general manager Dave Morgan says.
"Tradies are not dummies," Morgan says.
"Bright kids are being pushed into university by teachers. You have to have a lot of smarts to become a fully qualified plumber."
It takes six years of training, yet it only takes lawyers four years to graduate, he says.
"We need to start celebrating tradies and give them a cap and a gown when they have qualified."
People need to choose a career that suits them, not just go to university by default, he says.
The tradie shortage - made worse by the earthquakes - has got so dire that the company is actively recruiting internationally, Morgan says.
"Where else are we going to get them from?"
Peter Dallimore agrees.
He and his son Matt own PMD Paintingt.
The pair employ five painters and would love to employ more, Peter says.
"There's no interest there in the trades. We are beginning to wonder if they [schools] aren't making it sexy anymore," Peter says.
"You are told it's where you go if you aren't going to make it in IT. That's wrong - the world is their oyster if they learn a trade."
Peter and Matt train their employees up, not just in painting, but also in business management.
"The young ones with any nous are going to want to go out on their own. We just want to have them to fly our flag as long as possible," Peter says
Matt thinks schools need to start telling students about a range of career options.
It's not just about becoming a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, or an accountant, he says.
A variety of jobs will keep the world ticking over, Matt says.
"I think with the high schools, they are teaching the academic side of things, but not teaching young adults basic life skills," Matt says.
Employment website Seek.co.nz released figures earlier this week that showed trades and services are the most advertised jobs for the Waikato from August to October.
"The building boom across Waikato is helping drive Trades & Services job ad growth. Electricians, building trades and labourers are in strongest demand," says Janet Faulding, Seek general manager for New Zealand
Scaffolders are also in demand because of the new health and safety laws.
But there is a massive shortage, says Bruce Forsyth, operations manager of Hamilton-based Industrial Site Services Co Ltd (ISS).
That is in part due to the labour drain caused by Australian mining firms, which pay big bucks, Forsyth says.
He also puts it down to decreasing numbers of people wanting to do outdoor grunt work.
"The pool of young people in New Zealand who want to do physical outdoor work is much smaller nowadays.
"We work hard to recruit from schools. We have stands at school careers events countrywide and if we get one good recruit from that, we consider it a success," he says.
It's an attractive career option, since within four years a tradie can be earning $100,000, Forsyth says.
The Apprentice Training Trust (ATT) has noted the need for more apprentices and is responding by opening an office at 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton.
"Although ATT has had a presence in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty for some time, the opening of this bricks-and-mortar office really cements ATT’s commitment to the region," ATT regional manager Megan Peterken says.
Statistics New Zealand recently reported a 31 percent increase in new dwelling consents in the Waikato for the year ended September 30, 2016.
In the Bay of Plenty, the figure was even higher: a 50 percent rise in new dwelling consents over the same period.