One of my nephews is a qualified builder and the other is a motorcycle mechanic. Both have forged good careers and are now reaping the benefits of getting a trade behind them.
The pair are not lumbered with big student loans which, in my view, has enabled them to get along faster in life than their siblings or cousins.
My dad was a spray painter and in his time he also trained apprentices and took great pride in passing on his skills. He owned his own business and knew the importance of bringing on young talent.
It saddens me to see that one spray painting company in Rotorua has been advertising since Christmas to get a qualified spray painter and the owner told me no one wants to do it anymore.
I understand the lack of qualified tradespeople is nothing new. Master Plumbers and Masterlink estimate nationally 3000 plumbers are needed while Industry training organisation Competenz says there are serious national shortages in manufacturing, engineering and food and beverages industries.
Earlier this month the Government announced a hefty cash injection which will enable employers who take on apprentices up to $16,000 for the first two years and it has scrapped apprenticeship fees.
The scheme is admirable but according to sector leaders, it should have been introduced years ago. Why?
The trades are no strangers to boom and bust cycles and the aftermath of Covid-19 and the looming recession may repeat itself despite the money currently being thrown at it.
Peter Cooney of Classic Builders, the largest building company in the Bay - who has taken on numerous apprentices, says he is unlikely to do so in the near future because of the current economic climate.
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And he is not alone. ''You have to have the work," says Aotea Electric Rotorua's managing director Adam Harlick, a sentiment shared by Eco Plumber and Gas owner Dale Healy who says ''it does feel like you are going out on a limb taking on an apprentice''.
I hope the businesses that are able to will take on new apprentices. But I side with those who think the incentives which seem like a no-brainer should have been rolled out before the ambulance fell off the cliff.