National | Building

Initiative offers wraparound network for building apprentices to encourage next generation

An initiative aimed at providing apprentice builders new opportunities in professional development and new health and wellbeing services, especially in mental health, is being rolled out. The Apprentice Network is a wraparound support network intended to create a diverse industry for the future, to appeal more to the next generation of tradespeople.

“As you go forward to the future you have to remember the past as well, and having good work ethic and punctuality, and taking a lot of those good traits that the old school have,” Auckland builder Gavin Barr says.

Last night New Zealand Certified Builders launched the Apprentice Network, to fill in the gaps it says that for a long time have been ignored, such as industry events, health and well-being support including mental health services, as well as wider professional development opportunities, for the apprentices.

For NZCB builders who employ apprentices, it provides access to resources such as contracts and insurance, and also educational modules called ‘Train the Trainer’, which aim to provide employers with the knowledge they need to create an effective learning environment and to better support apprentices from different backgrounds.

NZCB pathway leader and apprentice manager Nick Matthews says, “This generation, the younger generation requires different support, additional resources that perhaps two or three prior didn’t need. But we’re about not only supporting Māori but also supporting Pasifika and neurodiverse apprentices.”

Since the Covid-19 pandemic the numbers of people in the building industry has been declining but the network hopes to show that the industry is evolving.

“Change is important in an industry that is forever evolving,” Taranaki builder Chad Niwa says.

“We’re an organisation that’s based on trade qualifications. We’re very proud of that - we believe it has a place in the market, and we believe we have the best builders. So come and train with us because we have the best apprentices and the best support,” Matthews says.

Although Matthews is not himself Māori, the Māori culture and people were key when designing the plans of the initiative.