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Investing in the future of the plumbing industry

15 August 2017
apprentices apprenticeships

Master Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers NZ support one of our members calling for greater government funding for apprenticeships.

Last night on TV3’s Newshub, Master Plumber Bruce Trenwith, owner of BT Plumbing & Gas, told how he advertised for six months to find a qualified plumber but had no luck.

Mr Trenwith puts the lack of plumbers down to not enough employers taking on apprentices. He says they see it as a big expense for small businesses.

“Employers taking on apprentices should be offered a financial incentive,” agrees Master Plumbers Chief Executive Greg Wallace.

“Currently plumbing businesses taking on apprentices receive no government funding—despite the additional time and effort spent training them. We'd like to see funding provided to the employer to help with training expenses and provision of tools.”

Master Plumbers estimates New Zealand currently needs around 2,000 more plumbers nationwide—with a critical shortage in Auckland. 

The shortfall has been well documented in reports issued by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in recent years.

Mr Wallace says, “The forecast is for eight years of strong growth in the construction industry.”

“Better financial support must be given to employers hosting apprentices, providing on-the-job training and demonstrating their commitment to growing the next generation of plumbers.” 

Mr Trenwith did manage to find a qualified plumber through Master Plumbers.

"Master Plumbers advertised overseas, they found an Australian plumber and we took him on about four weeks ago," Mr Trenwith said.

Unlike some trade sectors, the shortage of plumbers cannot easily be addressed through skilled migrants. The only country with mutually recognised plumbing qualifications is Australia. All other migrant plumbers need to be prepared to retrain.

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