More than 700 builders will be in Rotorua this week to celebrate the 20th anniversary of New Zealand Certified Builders, established in 1998 to raise standards across the building industry.

The conference, to be held at the Energy Events Centre, will be officially opened by a founding member of NZCB on May 25 at 1.30pm and closed by another founding member on May 26 at 4pm.

A conference highlight will be the Great Apprentice Race at 5pm on May 25, a fun event that traditionally involves the 19 apprentice challenge finalists racing carts they have each constructed during the day.

NZCB chief executive Grant Florence said the conference was a timely opportunity to look back at how significantly the industry had changed in just two decades, as well as to address the challenges ahead including the looming skills shortages and the implications of this for build quality.

Florence said NZCB was established by a forward-thinking group of builders who wanted to actively promote industry excellence by creating a trade association with more rigorous eligibility criteria.

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"Our conference is a unique opportunity for founding members and other builders that have joined since to celebrate that enduring commitment to raising the bar across the industry," he said.

From its inception, NZCB has required builders to hold a formal building trade qualification to be eligible for membership, and it remains the only one of New Zealand's two building trade associations that requires this.

While legislative changes in 2012 introduced a licensing regime for builders, there is no requirement for builders to hold formal trade qualifications to be licensed.

In 2013 NZCB established the Industry Training Association – Building (ITAB) apprentice scheme.

The scheme encourages member builders to take on apprentices, supports the Apprentice Scholarship Trust, and runs an annual NZCB Apprentice Challenge, the final of which will be held at the conference where 19 winners of regional events held nationwide will compete for the national title.

"While the Government has recently introduced a fees-free policy that also applies to trade training, enrolment numbers in apprenticeship schemes have not grown in the first five months of this year," Florence said.

"This highlights the active role the industry as a whole needs to continue to play in building the pipeline of skilled tradies."

Florence said NZCB's member builders were typically from small to medium-sized building firms that offered a full spectrum of residential and light commercial building services.

"It's a big deal for them to down-tools for several days to attend the conference, but we have record attendance this year, which reflects the value they place on the opportunity to come together to share best practice in an environment of ever-increasing complexity."