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Icon image of Access Trades strategic sector of Waihanga Ara Rau Workforce Development Council

Access Trades

The Access Trades strategic sector includes the following industries, trades and roles:
INDUSTRY
  • Crane
  • Rigging
  • Scaffolding
  • Lifting Engineering
ROLES
  • Crane operators including advanced and specialist
  • Dogman
  • Operators of cab-controlled overhead crane, pendant-controlled overhead crane, self-erecting tower crane and truck loader crane
  • Crane supervisors
  • Riggers, structural steel riggers, oil work riggers, construction rigging and telecommunication tower riggers
  • Piling rig operators, rigging technicians and rigging supervisors
  • Scaffolders and leading hand scaffolders
  • Proprietary suspended scaffolders or a crew lead
  • Advanced scaffolders, scaffolding supervisors and operations managers
  • Specialist crane erection
  • Rope access technicians, electricians with rope access, and industrial abseilers 
  • Industrial rope access jobs leads
  • Designers and managers planning advanced rope access activities 

DASHBOARD

This report represents descriptive information about Access Trades sector. It includes number of employees, businesses, and learners in this sector, and provides demographic information about them. It also gives employment, supply-demand and new-entrants forecast. The report focuses on selected range of industries and Qualifications in Access trades sector. You can find the detailed list of these in the appendix section.

For detailed information on how to use the report, report notes and data sources, please look below the dashboard. 

  • Workforce
    Cyclical Nature of the Construction Industry: The construction industry, including the finishing trades sector, experiences cyclical patterns influenced by government policies and economic conditions. These cycles of boom and bust create volatility, leading to uncertainties and disruptions for businesses and workers. Adapting to the industry's cyclical nature presents a significant challenge for stakeholders. Lack of Long-Term Planning: A prominent issue within the sector is the perceived lack of long-term planning in the finishing trades sector. Short-term goals and policies that change with different governments hinder the industry's growth and stability. The absence of comprehensive, multi-year plans for housing and commercial infrastructure needs poses significant obstacles. Skill Shortages and Labour Challenges: The finishing trades sector faces challenges in attracting and retaining skilled tradespeople. The shortage of labour in these trades results in difficulties finding qualified workers. Additionally, the process of bringing in skilled workers from other countries can be bureaucratic and expensive. Addressing skill shortages and labour challenges is critical for maintaining a capable and sustainable workforce. Negative Perception of Trades: Trades within the finishing trades sector, such as painting and tiling, often suffer from a negative perception compared to academic pathways. Career advisors in high schools may not actively promote trades as viable career options, leading to a lack of awareness and interest among students. Efforts are needed to change this perception and highlight the benefits and opportunities offered by trade careers. Need for Industry Promotion and Collaboration: Promoting trades effectively is crucial not only within secondary schools but also to the general public. Public campaigns and advertisements can help raise awareness and generate interest in trade careers. Furthermore, collaboration between government entities, industry organisations, and businesses is essential to address the industry's challenges, including skill shortages and the negative perception of trades. Material Supply and Economic Factors: Factors such as the availability of building materials and the state of the economy have a significant impact on the finishing trades sector. Disruptions in the supply chain, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, can affect project timelines and overall productivity. Economic recessions and fluctuations further contribute to uncertainties within the industry. Apprenticeship and Training Support: Acknowledging the importance of apprenticeships and training for developing a skilled workforce, the sector faces concerns regarding the financial burden and risks associated with employing apprentices. Government support and incentives for businesses to take on apprentices, along with improved financial conditions for apprentices, are recommended to address these challenges effectively. Industry-Specific Insights: In the tiling sub-sector, poor installation practices, failure to follow instructions and standards, and health and safety risks related to silicosis are prominent issues. Leak prevention in bathrooms is identified as a significant challenge, requiring adherence to correct procedures and best practices. Training and certification programmes in the tiling industry need improvement and better oversight from industry associations. Challenges for the Kitchen and Bathroom Sector: The kitchen and bathroom sub-sector faces specific challenges. The end of the Fees Free scheme has impacted training enrolment, posing a potential shortage of qualified professionals. An aging workforce and a lack of qualified leaders also pose challenges. Additionally, the industry's outlook may be affected by the recession.
  • Training & Education
    Positive Initiatives and Successes: The apprentice boost scheme, which provides funding for employers, has been recognised as a positive and effective initiative. It has enabled companies to invest more time in training apprentices, leading to benefits for both employers and apprentices. Additionally, the apprenticeship scheme in collaboration with BCITO has been well-received, offering dedicated case officers who proactively support both employers and apprentices. Regional Training Gaps: Significant challenges exist in training apprentices in remote regions such as Westport and Blenheim. These areas face a shortage of apprentices, necessitating the recruitment of apprentices from other locations to fulfill workforce requirements. Need for Comprehensive and Practical Training: Stakeholders have expressed concerns about the current apprenticeship system being more of a tick-box exercise rather than providing comprehensive training. There is a demand for more extensive training programmes, particularly at higher levels like level 4. Additionally, stakeholders emphasise the need for training programmes that incorporate technological skills relevant to the construction industry. Dissatisfaction with the Apprenticeship System: Certain employers are dissatisfied with the current apprenticeship system, perceiving it as inadequate for providing relevant training. Differences in training outcomes have been observed between design and production apprenticeships, further contributing to dissatisfaction. Challenges in Attracting and Training a Diverse Workforce: Efforts to attract and train a diverse workforce need improvement. Stakeholders identify the importance of addressing cultural competency, climate change considerations, leadership training within businesses, legislative reform changes, and upskilling of experienced workers to achieve a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Practical and Targeted Solutions: There is a clear demand for practical and targeted training solutions that address specific industry gaps. Stakeholders emphasise the importance of developing these solutions in collaboration with the sector and ensuring they are easily implementable, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Role of Organisations and Support: Key organisations involved in the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) reforms have a vital role in developing and delivering training solutions. Private sector involvement and the adoption of best practice models are recognised as valuable contributions to addressing the training needs of the construction industry. Challenges and Support for Apprentices: The transition from a hardcopy monitoring system to an online electronic system has posed challenges for employers in tracking apprentices' progress. Some apprentices struggle with self-management, particularly in managing their time and assignments effectively. Additionally, apprentices with reading and writing difficulties, such as dyslexia, may require additional support and guidance to overcome these challenges. Work Ethic and Attitudes: A perceived difference in work ethic and loyalty between older generations and younger apprentices has been noted. Older generations are described as more willing to go the extra mile and meet deadlines, while younger apprentices tend to prioritise personal time and may lack the same level of loyalty towards their employers. Emphasis on Competency and Skill Proficiency: The current training system is criticised for placing greater emphasis on passing rather than ensuring overall competency. Stakeholders advocate for increased focus on skill proficiency and suggest expanding teaching and training programmes to cover specialised areas, such as coating, spraying, and wallpapering. Collaboration and Coordination: Improved collaboration and coordination between different organisations responsible for theoretical and practical assessments, such as NKBA and BCITO, are necessary to ensure a more cohesive and streamlined training experience. Similarly, collaboration and coordination between trades and builders from the beginning of a project are crucial to ensure correct construction practices and prevent failures. Recognition of Prior Learning: There is a significant need for better recognition and acknowledgment of prior learning for individuals entering the construction trade with relevant qualifications. This recognition would help utilise their existing knowledge and skills effectively. Licensing and Certification: The delivery of apprenticeship training programmes in the construction industry requires improvement, particularly in terms of licensing and certification for specific trades. Stakeholders emphasise the urgency of expediting the licensing process for tilers and waterproof installers to ensure the proper construction of wet areas. Knowledge Sharing and Best Practices: Knowledge sharing through webinars, videos, adherence to building codes, and dissemination of best practices are identified as effective measures to address industry gaps and prevent future failures.
  • Māori and Pacific peoples in education and the workforce
    Equal Opportunities in Hiring: Several participants acknowledged that their organisation does not consider race or ethnicity when making hiring decisions. The focus is on identifying the best candidate for the job based on skills, qualifications, and attitude towards work. Māori and Pacific Peoples: Some participants stated that attracting and retaining Māori and Pacific employees should be approached similarly to any other employee. They highlighted the importance of a good work attitude and willingness to work as key criteria for selection. Varied Soft Skills: Soft skills, such as leadership, time management, and motivation, vary from person to person. Some individuals possess these skills naturally, while others may require additional development and support. Impact of External Factors: Family situations and external factors can significantly impact an employee's work performance. One participant mentioned dealing with issues related to drugs, mental illness, and relationships within the workforce, highlighting the need for supportive measures and resources. Improved Employee Willingness and Value: Some participants observed an improvement in employee willingness to work and value their jobs, potentially attributed to the perception of tougher economic conditions. This positive shift in attitude has contributed to a more motivated and positive team. Partnerships with Māori and Pacific peoples: Many participants acknowledged a need to develop stronger partnerships with Māori and Pacific peoples. However, mentioned that there are challenges arising from a lack of knowledge and understanding in this area, hindering effective collaboration. Addressing Historical Disparities: The organisation aims to increase the number of Māori and Pacific employees and members. They recognise the importance of addressing historical disparities within the sector and providing opportunities for advancement to foster success as business owners and leaders. Cultural Competency and Support: To attract and retain Māori and Pacific peoples in the workforce, some participants stressed the need for improved cultural competency, training providers, and business support systems. Accessible training formats, translations, visual presentations, and simplified language were highlighted as essential components. Reputation and Quality Challenges: The tiling industry faces challenges related to reputation and quality. One interviewee emphasised the necessity for better construction methodology and training to ensure durable and compliant installations. Lack of Awareness and Understanding: There was acknowledgment of a lack of awareness and understanding within the industry regarding the Treaty of Waitangi and the importance of supporting Māori aspirations and success. Addressing this knowledge gap is crucial for creating an inclusive and supportive work environment.

ABOUT THE REPORT AND THE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PLAN

We present the 'Sector Voice' report, as a part of the Workforce Development Plan, which highlights the main challenges and opportunities in the Access Trades sector. Our aim is to provide valuable insights through conducting an overview of the sector and performing a thematic analysis of experiences and perspectives shared by sector representatives on key issues impacting the sector.


Our primary goal with this report is to aid Waihanga Ara Rau, sector groups, and Government bodies in their future planning endeavours. Together, we aim to enhance the vocational education system and effectively meet the needs of the Access Trades sector and wider Construction & Infrastructure sector.

METHODOLOGY

We conducted a qualitative study to explore the challenges and opportunities in the Access Trades sector. We conducted semi-structured interviews with members of the Strategic Reference Group, sector associations, business owners and educational providers. These individual virtual and in-person interviews took place between late 2022 and early 2023, lasting 30-45 minutes. 


The focus of these interviews was to gain insights and perspectives on workforce challenges, training and education, and diversity within the sector. Prior to the interviews, we provided sector representatives with the interview questions to ensure they were well-prepared.


In addition to the interviews, we included insights gathered from previous engagements between Waihanga Ara Rau and the sector, including Strategic Reference Group discussions, to capture collective perspectives.


We used thematic analysis to analyse the qualitative data obtained from interviews and group discussions. We transcribed, coded, and organised the data into themes to identify recurring patterns, challenges, and opportunities within the sector.
Throughout the study, we followed ethical considerations, including obtaining informed consent from all sector representatives and ensuring confidentiality of their responses.

SETTING THE SCENE

There is an abundance of work opportunities available for the Access Trades sector. A business owner reflects on the sector’s current environment stating that “an expansion phase is putting it mildly, it’s more like an explosion.” Several factors are driving this rapid growth, including:

  • Greater investment from local, regional, and central governments for construction and infrastructure initiatives.

  • A substantial influx of consents for commercial and industrial developments.

  • The rebounding efforts from Climate events following recent cyclones and floods.

This is accompanied by growth in industry association memberships, showing their increased visibility, credibility and value they provide to the sector, right from businesses to the workforce. 


This growth is also a reflection of the overall expansion and profitability opportunities of the sector, driven by strong demand for its products and services. Nevertheless, the sector acknowledges that this growth has exacerbated long-standing challenges within the industry and placed demand on various roles, keeping up with the workload while providing adequate training, within a sector that is already grappling with skills and labour shortages. Addressing the current and future shortage of skills alongside other challenges, is imperative to maintain sustainable productivity and growth in the face of the ever-evolving economic landscape. 

KEY THEMES & SUB THEMES

Labour and Skills Challenges

Employment and Career Progression

Training and Programme Gaps

Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Climate Change

Compliance, Regulation and Policy

Equity Considerations

OTHER CONSTRUCTION SECTORS

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Off Site
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