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Employment and Career Progression

Career progression refers to the advancement and development of an individual's career over time. It involves the growth and improvement of one's professional life, typically characterised by upward movement in terms of job level, responsibilities, salary, and opportunities. Career progression often entails acquiring new skills, expanding knowledge, and taking on greater challenges and responsibilities within an occupation or industry. Career progression is vital for the perception of the sector to attract new workers while recognising existing workforce


As mentioned earlier, the lack of available workers and skills in the sector contribute to various challenges it faces. These challenges include the absence of clear career pathways. This, in turn, hampers the sector's ability to attract new talent, as it is often perceived as unappealing and less well-known compared to other industries. Efforts are underway to promote career exploration programmes in secondary schools, encouraging students to plan their careers early on. Developing stronger partnerships between schools, kura, employers, and other organisations will help the sector leverage existing support initiatives already in place.

Moreover, data is suggesting that there is a lack of interest from young individuals in construction and infrastructure (C&I) trades, further exacerbating the labour shortage. Even for those who do enter the Access Trades sector, some view it as a temporary steppingstone to other C&I sectors, rather than a long-term career choice. As a spokesperson emphasised, “the establishment of clear employment and career pathways is necessary to attract and retain workers“. While pathways exist for various roles, there is a need for greater clarity and visibility of these while also addressing obstacles that impede career progression, employee recognition, and leadership development within the sector. Several industry leaders and businesses are already exploring solutions and, in some cases, are piloting initiatives aimed at addressing the identified concerns.

Qualitative research also reveals that a significant number of Māori and Pacific individuals hold skilled positions like crane operators, but a smaller proportion advance to supervisory and management roles. Addressing this underrepresentation requires intentional strategies, specialised training programmes, and initiatives that empower these individuals to assume leadership positions. However, a major obstacle in these efforts is the lack of robust industry-related data, including demographic information, which would guide and inform such initiatives.

Employers are encouraged to foster supportive work environments that promote the growth of the workforce. However, for some particularly experienced workers, there may be little interest in management positions, preferring to “remain in hands-on, non-management roles” for many different reasons. Nevertheless, it is still important to create effective pathways for individuals to leverage their qualifications and experiences, even for those not seeking formal leadership positions. Many have suggested the implementation of improved mentorship programmes across the sector to facilitate career advancement, address complex issues faced by learners and workers of all ages. These programmes, if properly designed, provide guidance, instil valuable habits, and highlight the value of skills beyond technical expertise.

Lastly, limited recognition of the skills held by many individuals in the Access Trades industries, particularly those without formal qualifications can delay or hinder career progression for many individuals. As one sector leader expressed, “the recognition of one’s mana is important especially for those who are highly skilled in what they do, but they don’t have formal qualifications, and there needs to be some type of acknowledgement of their skills”. It would be worth considering how the sector can apply mechanisms, like those being applied in Scaffolding and Plumbing industries, that strikes the balance between formal qualifications and focusing on individual recognition of skills.

The industry is actively taking steps to address the identified issues. However, further exploration and collective efforts are needed to accelerate progress. Strategic partnerships between the industry and key stakeholders, such as training organisations, should be emphasised to establish appropriate career pathways aligned with the industry's needs. These partnerships ensure access to resources, funding, and skill development opportunities. Some industry professionals have suggested the introduction of a ‘trainee’ certificate as an entry point to employment, allowing individuals to work while pursuing further qualifications.

  • Perception of the sector

  • Underrepresentation and leadership development

  • Workforce growth and career advancement

  • Recognition of skills and qualifications

  • Industry efforts and partnerships

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