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Theme 1: Labour Shortages & Skilled Labour Shortages


The finishing trades sector is facing challenges related to the labour shortages and skilled labour shortages. For instance, large-scale projects requiring specialised knowledge and expertise, such as infrastructure development, are becoming increasingly difficult due to the scarcity of skilled workers and the lack of depth in intellectual knowledge. According to a source, "We’ve lost that intellectual property because all those big companies... they are the only ones that can have that depth of intellectual knowledge... And now we struggle to build a motorway."

The industry is experiencing a labour shortage, which can be attributed to a lack of promotion and awareness about trade careers, especially among young individuals. A quote states, "Not working well is having people coming through the trade... we need good, qualified tradespeople and we need to catch them young." This indicates the need for qualified tradespeople and the importance of attracting young people to trade careers.

Promoting diversity and inclusivity in the industry is also crucial to address the labour shortage. A quote emphasises the need to reach out to everybody, including women, stating, "We’ve got to reach out to everybody... especially women." Encouraging diversity and inclusivity can help bridge the labour gap and bring in new skilled workers.

The lack of skilled tradespeople is identified as one of the biggest issues facing the industry in the next five years. A quote acknowledges this, stating, "In the next five years…the biggest impact includes the lack of tradespeople, obviously... I think that’s one of our biggest issues."

There are specific sub-sectors within the construction industry that are also facing challenges related to the shortage of skilled labour. For example, in the kitchen and joinery sub-sector, there is a lack of diversity, as indicated by a quote, "there’s a push on being educated but there’s like I say I mean we had a chapter meeting on Wednesday night, and I don’t think there was a single brown person there. And that’s you know, they’re just not present." This lack of diversity may contribute to the overall shortage of skilled labour in the sub-sector.

Regarding the painting and decorating trade, there is a positive shift in perception regarding women in trades, which opens up employment opportunities for a larger portion of the population. A quote highlights this, stating, "The other thing that I think is fantastic is changing the perception of women in trades. Obviously, that opens another, well 50% of the population to employ which is fantastic. So, we currently have seven women who are on our tools, so that excludes our office staff as well."
In the tiling industry, there is a shortage of skilled labour, leading to a high number of failed installations. A quote mentions this, stating, "A lot of the tiling installers don't believe they have issues with their installations... We're seeing a huge number of failures, so that's why we're focusing on training them." The need for training indicates a shortage of qualified workers in the tiling industry.

To address the skilled labour shortage and improve the industry, several recommendations can be made based on the quotes:

  • Improve training programmes and introduce licensing requirements for wet area construction to ensure proper standards and reduce failures.

  • Foster collaboration and education among stakeholders in the industry to enhance understanding of best practices and requirements.

  • Promote inclusivity and outreach to attract individuals from different backgrounds to the trade industry, including Māori, Pacific peoples, and women.

  • Increase the availability of skilled mentors and employers who can effectively train and guide aspiring designers.

  • Enhance the exposure of students to skilled designers and industry professionals to bridge gaps in training.

  • Provide industry-specific training and upskilling opportunities to address the changing needs and advancements in various sub-sectors, such as engineering.

  • Recognise and value specific endorsements or registrations as indicators of skill and competence to motivate individuals to attain higher skill levels.

  • Develop solutions to increase the representation of Māori and Pacific peoples in the construction industry by providing access to relevant training programmes and opportunities for career advancement.


  • ​Improve training programmes and introduce licensing requirements.

  • Foster collaboration and education among stakeholders.

  • Promote inclusivity and outreach efforts.

  • Increase availability of skilled mentors and employers.

  • Enhance exposure to skilled designers and professionals.​

  • Provide industry-specific training and upskilling opportunities.



  • Develop targeted trade career promotion programmes

  • Expand and enhance trade-focused training programmes

  • Foster partnerships with industry and employers


  • Explore the potential for more ERP (Experienced Recognition Programme) options or skills recognition modules. 

  • Develop a specialised training program tailored to the needs of immigrants when they arrive in New Zealand. 

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