New Zealand's booming building industry hopes to recruit an extra 2000 apprentices a year with a new app for high school students.

About 10,000 students doing building, construction and allied trades (BCATS) courses at secondary schools will be able to use the app to track their progress - and ultimately to get a job and an apprenticeship.

Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) chief executive Warwick Quinn said only 2.4 per cent of the country's 60,000 school leavers each year - fewer than 1500 young people - started a BCITO apprenticeship within a year of leaving school.

"We think there's something like 30,000 tradespeople required to fill the gap in the next five years," he said.

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"If we can add 2000 a year to what we're doing, we will be on our journey."

The app, launched by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Auckland's Green Bay High School today, is the first of a three-part series that will ultimately include young people who have left school and are looking for an apprenticeship, and apprentices during their training.

"This [first stage] is for rookies and teachers," Quinn said. "It provides that introductory stuff, it provides a home where they can keep in touch with us and we have that relationship at an individual level.

"We know there are thousands of kids doing BCATS, but we don't know where they are headed, we have no way of transitioning them smoothly through school into that work environment. This mechanism does that for us."

As well as recording the students' progress in the trades, teachers will be able to enter other information such as whether students have driver's licences and health and safety certificates.

About 200 schools and almost 1500 students have already signed up to the app.

Stage two, due to launch in the next six weeks, will be a "starters" app for young people who have left school and are looking for an apprenticeship. Quinn said most people found labouring jobs in the industry first, then looked for training.

"Once you become an apprentice, you already have a relationship with us. We are building an apprentice portal as well so it becomes one stop for an individual," he said.

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New sign-ups for building and construction apprenticeships plunged in the global financial crisis from 2849 in 2007 to 1187 in 2009, but have grown strongly since then to 4592 last year.