New Zealand’s only electrical contracting trade organisation is calling for more young people to get involved in electrician apprenticeships in Southland.
Master Electricians chief executive Neville Simpson said there were not enough new recruits getting into the sector.
Master Electricians subsidiary, The Electrical Training Company, has just under 50 apprentices placed throughout almost 30 businesses in the region.
With residential construction activity remaining strong across the region, demand for electricians is soaring, yet the organisation’s members are struggling to find sufficient suitable candidates for apprenticeships, Simpson said.
“. . . 13.8 per cent of young Southlanders aged 15-24 are currently not in employment, education or training.”
“At the same time, we are looking to recruit and train more skilled electricians to meet demand not just in the residential construction sector but in other areas, from commercial developments to existing properties, renovations and industry, including Southland’s dairy sector.”
There was an “outdated stigma” that surrounded trade careers, he said.
“Not every young person wants to go to university and not every young person knows what they want to do when they graduate.
“Parents, teachers and careers advisors should be encouraging young men and women with technical flair or an interest in technology to consider the potential of an electrical apprenticeship.”
Etco Invercargill apprenticeship co-ordinator John Whitaker said finding new recruits who fit the criteria was the biggest challenge in Southland at the moment.
“You need to be practically minded as well as having some academic nous as well.
“Ideally school leavers are our target – those who have done Year 13 and have NCEA Level Two credits in the right areas.”
Southern Training Group general manager Glenys McKenzie said the biggest issue facing the sector, and trades in general, was the aging workforce.
McKenzie said following the economic downturn of recent years, companies had become more reluctant to take on and train up new apprentices.
While businesses were generally very loyal with their apprentices once they had been hired, economic difficulties had made it difficult to justify new hires.
“For them there’s a balance between a work training culture and having the volume of work to provide opportunities for apprentices.
McKenzie said it was necessary for the future of the trade sector to encourage new people into the workforce.
“We need businesses who are willing to employ apprentices.
“If we’re not prepared to employ our young people and invest in our workforce, we will have to import the workforce instead.”