Ara affirms commitment to Timaru carpentry as apprentice course develops
Ara Institute of Canterbury says it is committed to growing its carpentry programme in Timaru as the industry focus appears to swing to apprenticeships.
There were 19 enrolments for the polytechnic's one-year-long carpentry course at the Timaru campus, down from 37 last year.
However, there were 16 enrolments in the new-to-Timaru managed apprenticeship course, Ara director of education and applied research Judith Brown said.
"Numbers have dropped off slightly in South Canterbury this year," Brown acknowledged.
"We believe this relates to opportunities for apprentices in the local area."
The one year course develops skills and knowledge. The apprenticeship course gets students into the industry.
"This provides targeted support for students who are working in the construction industry as apprentices," Brown said.
"The apprenticeship is a four year journey that sees the student work full time in industry while they study part time."
The apprenticeship programme has "rolling enrolments". Ara was working to grow carpentry training in the region, Brown said.
South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith said enrolments may reflect an environment in which young people entered apprenticeships straight form school, rather than opting for a pre-apprenticeship course.
A number of businesses put people through their apprenticeships, she said.
There was also a high level of employment within Timaru currently, she said.
Master Builders Timaru branch president Steven Brooks said he did the pre-apprenticeship course himself a number of years ago.
"Each builder to his own to be honest.
"It was fine for me but you're just not guaranteed a job. Sometimes you're better off to get a job first then go do the course."
Three of his staff pursued an apprenticeship course by correspondence and they liked it because they were earning money straight away, he said.
"But there's definitely a place for it."
Construction had slowed down during winter - which was typical - but the foreseeable future was positive for the industry: "we're not slowing down", he said.
Elsewhere in New Zealand, record numbers of people were heading to tertiary institutes to study building.
However, the shift was still not enough to meet industry demand.
For the first time in the organisation's history, the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation had 11,000 apprentices actively working towards a qualification.
"This is a fantastic milestone but we still need thousands more apprentices in training each year to meet demand", organisation chief executive Warwick Quinn said.
"New Zealand is in the midst of a skills shortage," Quinn said.
New Zealand's construction and building sector needs 65,000 new people over the next five years to meet new growth and replace people who leave.