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Construction & Infrastructure: Services

The Construction & Infrastructure: Services strategic sector includes the following industries, trades and roles:
  • Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Architectural Technology
  • Asset Management
  • Engineering technicians (civil, electrical, electronics, mechanical or fire)
  • Civil engineers, electrical engineers, electronics engineers, mechanical engineers and fire engineers
  • Hydrographic surveyors
  • Assistant surveyors
  • Land surveyors and surveying technicians
  • Building surveyor, building inspectors, building consultants and compliance officers
  • Technical support officers
  • Construction site managers, construction management assistants and construction project management assistants
  • Quantity surveyors
  • Architectural technicians
  • Asset managers
  • Infrastructure procurement 
  • Structural detailers


This report represents descriptive information about Construction and Infrastructure Services 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 Construction and Infrastructure Services 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.


We present the 'Sector Voice' report, as a part of the Workforce Development Plan, which highlights the main challenges and opportunities in the Construction & Infrastructure: Services 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 workforce, training, education, diversity, and inclusion. Additionally, we outline subsequent actions that need to be taken.

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 Construction & Infrastructure: Services sector.


  • The Construction & Infrastructure: Services sector encompasses various fields like quantity surveying, project management, architectural technology and design, asset management, surveying, building information modelling, procurement, and engineering. In 2022, it contributed 7% to New Zealand's economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employed 56,718 people, primarily located in Auckland due to its large population, followed by Canterbury and Wellington.¹

  • In 2018, the sector experienced an increase in the attraction of younger people compared to 2013, with a 1.4% growth in 15–24-year-olds and an 8.2% increase in 20-24-year-olds. However, they only comprised 9.6% of the workforce. Furthermore, the employment of individuals aged 65 years and older increased by 6.1% in 2018, partially reflecting a trend consistent with the overall workforce, where New Zealanders are continuing to work into their retirement years.²

  • During the same period, the proportion of employees with European ethnicity dropped from 86% to 81% in 2013. The most common trade within the sector was Design, Engineering, and Science Professionals, followed by Engineering, ICT, and Science Technicians, and Specialist Managers.³ 

  • In 2022, Government incentives, such as The Apprenticeship Boost and Fees Free, effectively supported 6385 learners, with 95.4% enrolled predominantly in formal work-based learning.⁴

  • Mega trends such as climate change, sustainability, technology, and diversity are shaping the sector’s trajectory. While the sector utilises technological advancements and tools to manage and meet the growing requirements and challenges, shortages of skilled professionals could hinder the sector’s effectiveness.

  • Although the sector has experienced some growth in becoming more ethnically diverse, it still only comprises 6.2% Māori and 2.5% Pacific Peoples of the total workforce.⁵  

  • The sector follows safety, quality, and industry best practice policies and regulations. These cover workplace safety, licensing, consent procedures, and environmental considerations. Key examples are the Building Act 2004, Resource Management Act (RMA), Building Code, and immigration policies. Staying informed and updating the workforce ensures safety and productivity.


We conducted a qualitative research study to explore the challenges and opportunities in the Construction and Infrastructure: Services sector. We conducted semi-structured interviews with members of the Strategic Reference Group, sector associations, and business owners in fields like project management, architectural design and technology, asset management, surveying, and engineering. These individual virtual interviews took place between October and November 2022, with each interview lasting 30-45 minutes. The focus of these interviews was to gain insights and perspectives on workforce challenges, training and education, diversity and inclusion 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 information from previous engagements between Waihanga Ara Rau and the sector, as well as 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.

However, we acknowledge the study's limitations, particularly the lack of diverse sector representatives, such as Māori and Pacific Peoples. Nevertheless, the research findings will inform the Workforce Development Plan and guide the recommendations within it, providing valuable advice to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).


Labour Shortages and Skills Shortages

Attraction and Retention


Training and Education Gaps

Lack of Diversity and Inclusion


The Construction and Infrastructure: Services sector faces challenges in labour shortages, talent attraction and retention, regulatory compliance, training gaps, and diversity. Shortage of skilled workers due to declining immigration and lack of preparedness among graduates and school leavers is a pressing issue. The sector aims to cultivate domestic talent and encourage Māori and Pacific Peoples' participation through improved career pathways, training, and partnerships. Better communication, data access, and resources are needed to address challenges effectively.

Regulatory concerns include compliance burdens and unclear standards. Standardised qualifications, clear regulations, and improved communication with the government are essential for building quality and consumer protection.

Training gaps in various professions require improved educational programmes and clear career pathways. Public awareness needs to be enhanced to promote the value and diverse career opportunities in the sector.

Diversity and inclusion are crucial; efforts are made to attract diverse talent and create inclusive work environments at leadership levels. Proactive measures, collaboration, and targeted initiatives can foster a sustainable and inclusive future for the sector.


In terms of the next steps, we will:

  • Engage a diverse range of sector representatives in interview sessions to capture various perspectives, including graduates, underrepresented groups like Māori and Pacific Peoples, and workers. 

  • Work with SRG members to establish report recommendations and an action plan. 

  • Take responsibility for successfully implementing the Workforce Development Plan and oversee its progress to identify any challenges or opportunities for improvement.

  • Foster collaborations with sector representatives in the Services sector, including sector representatives, businesses, and Iwi/Māori communities. 

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