Gavin Dakars had been advertising for an experienced automotive electrician, whom he was willing to pay $35 an hour.
But after a year of searching the country and abroad failed to find the right person, the owner of boat-repair company Marine Electrics is now prepared to hire a school leaver for whose training he will pay.
The former Navy sailor had hired a couple of workers who told him they were qualified but had ended up costing the business money because of damages caused.
"We've been trying for at least a year," Mr Dakars said. "This is about our third go at it. We've got a lot of work on, but we just can't get the skilled people to do it.
"Younger people in New Zealand just haven't got the skills or haven't had the training. My impression is that 10 years ago, the trend was to go to IT, away from the trades.
"Our latest ad is focused on finding somebody who is keen to learn, has the right attitude and interested in tinkering around with electrical things and boats on the weekends."
The qualified person could have earned up to $100,000 a year and would have a company car and phone included in their package, Mr Dakars said.
The apprentice would most likely start on minimum wage.
Automotive electricians for boat and vehicle repairs have the biggest shortage of workers, Immigration's long-term skills shortage list reveals.
Trade Me lists 249 vacancies for the position and every region of the country is represented.
Mr Dakars said he had been inundated with applications, many from foreign workers.
"They're just looking for any job ... supermarket shelf packers willing to train but with no experience.
"I know people in the industry, other mechanics, who have been tempted and gone to Aussie and are getting better money over there and they have no signs of coming back."
Mr Dakars trained in his trade in the Navy before working on superyachts overseas, then started his New Zealand business in the mid-1990s.