An ageing workforce means plumbers like Jason Gamble - who hasn't got a grey hair on his head - are the future of construction in New Zealand.

The 29-year-old from Palmerston North is on a quest to win the New Zealand Young Plumber of the Year title, an event that aimed to encourage more youngsters to the trade.

"No grey hairs - not yet anyway," he said.

Research had shown that 20 per cent of the plumbing workforce was forecast to retire within the next 10 years, and with increasing demand for tradespeople, it was likely to mean plumbers like Gamble would be in hot demand.


"I love it. It's definitely a joy getting up and going to work. Obviously there are the odd unpleasant jobs, but that's all part of it, and the good jobs make up for it," he said.

General Manager of Plumbing World New Zealand Rob Kidd said the competition supported young talent in the trade industry, and it was important that more youngsters took up the trade.

"The aim of the awards is to recognise the amazing young talent in the plumbing industry and hopefully encourage other young Kiwis to consider a career in plumbing."

"With the increasing demand in New Zealand, it's vital we get more high-quality plumbers into the industry."

"We know from our research that 2,195 of the 11,151-strong plumbing workforce are over 55 and that's about a fifth of the New Zealand plumbing industry preparing to retire within the next decade."

"It's important to recognise the importance of plumbing and motivate our young plumbers to continue pursuing a career in the field."

New Zealand needs around 60,000 tradespeople over the next five years to meet the increasing demand for skilled and certified tradespeople, he said.

Increased construction activity, specifically within the Auckland region, has seen a significant increase in the need for trained workers in plumbing, gas fitting and drain laying.


Gamble, who had been plumbing for eight years now, said it was reassuring to know that the future looked busy for plumbers.

"There's going to be a big hole and not a lot of plumbers to fill it," he said.

It was the third year in succession that Gamble, who was employed by Tricklebanks, had won the Palmerston North Young Plumber of the Year title, which meant he had qualified for the regionals for the third time.

"It's a really tough competition. There are a lot of good plumbers there," he said.

The regional competition has plumbers attempt a series of plumbing disciplines, which are assessed by a panel of judges. They also completed a written exam.

Gamble was one of 48 branch winners going through to the regionals stage. The regional winners qualify for the national final, where some good prizes are up for grabs.

The winner of the national finals stands to receive a share in $25,000 worth of prizes, including a trip for two to Beijing, China.

They also win a Samsung Galaxy smart watch, NZPM RPS shares, over $5000 worth of tools, gift vouchers, safety boots and a subscription to NZ Plumber Magazine.

The winner's employer will receive NZPM RPS Shares, $750 to spend on Puma Golf merchandise, fuel vouchers and a one-year supply of Red Bull.

Kidd said participants could enter the competition as many times as they liked, allowing them to improve their skills and come back to compete again for the chance to win, unless they won the competition. They were then ineligible.

The competition was in its third year, and continues to go from strength to strength, he said.

To qualify for the Young Plumber of the Year competition, participants had to be aged under 31 and be working or training as a plumber.

The Palmerston North regional final will be held at Plumbing World on Tuesday, 13 August at 5.30pm. The finals are in Hamilton.