The construction industry pumped more money into Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty's economy than any other industry last year.
It was responsible for 9.1 per cent of the sub-region's $9.13 billion GDP in 2019.
Construction was also the biggest contributor to economic growth in the past 10 years, responsible for pumping $349m into the sub-region and creating 3562 jobs.
Business leaders say the construction industry had been a stable pillar of the economy, creating some of the city's top-paying roles, with more building consents issued in Tauranga than other big cities.
Training organisations say they have more apprentices on their books than ever before, while a local recruitment company says it is "incredibly hard" to find builders to fill vacancies.
Building companies say there had been a focus from government and schools to "rekindle their love for the trades", while others fear a major economic issue brewing if the city runs out of land.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the construction industry had been a "stable pillar of our economy" for the last few decades.
"It has helped the city grow a wide range of expertise in planning, architecture and engineering.
"The industry has some of the city's top-paying roles, while also providing fulfilling entry-level roles."
He expected the construction sector to remain strong as long as local and central government was committed to long term planning of its infrastructure investment.
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"This will help combat future construction sector boom-bust cycles."
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said the construction industry had benefitted from a larger amount of population growth in the past few years.
"There is also more commercial activity in construction and Tauranga's level of building consent activity is way higher than comparable cities like Hamilton and Wellington."
Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) chief executive Warwick Quinn said there had been strong growth within the Bay in the past five years.
Quinn said the company now had more than 1100 apprentices on its books compared with about 700 at the start of 2015.
"It is a reflection of what is going on out there. It has just gone off like a rocket," he said.
"Building consents have just been going off. You wonder when it is going to stop."
Quinn said the amount of investment in the Bay was going to be "huge" going forward.
"The call for more resources is just going to be stronger. There has never been a better time to get into the trade."
1st Call Recruitment managing director Phil van Syp said it was "incredibly hard" to find builders for the region.
"They are taking on apprentices but there has just been more and more," he said.
"It is just getting busier and busier."
However, Johnny Calley of Calley Homes and Master Builders said construction growth across the region had attracted a strong workforce over the years.
"We have serviced the demand quite well," he said.
Calley said there had become a stronger focus for colleges not to forget about the trades as a career pathway for students.
"There has always been an emphasis on tertiary education into the trades, but there is now more of a focus from the government and schools to rekindle their love for the trades.
"We need to continue that ... We need the work levels to stay strong so we don't have a downturn in employment opportunities."
Classic Builders director Peter Cooney said the construction industry was "very strong".
Cooney said building companies were becoming guarded in terms of taking on more staff due to what they see on the horizon.
"We are going to face a critical time in the next few years when we start running out of both residential and industrial land," he said.
"Sadly we are lacking infrastructure funding for new wastewater plants to be able to release further land and intensify land.
"It is going to be a major economic issue in the next two or three years when we start running out of land ... It will be a whole new ball game."
Building builders careers
New Zealand Certified Builders (NZCB) has introduced a new initiative to help keep experienced builders in the trade as well as upskill the next generation.
The Rusty Hammers mentoring programme is designed to enable experienced members of NZCB to continue to align themselves with a respected trade association at a reduced membership fee in exchange for mentoring members at the beginning of their careers.
NZCB chief executive Grant Florence said with the ongoing high demand for builders and an increasingly complex regulatory and business landscape, it made sense to launch the initiative.
"Builders who have been on the job for decades have built up a depth of practical experience that inherently extends well beyond what younger builders have had a chance to learn as part of their formal apprenticeship training or in their first few years on-the-job," he said.
"Having access to someone who has 'been there and done that' is incredibly valuable for our younger members who are being mentored."
The mentoring focuses on technical trade skills and business skills, leveraging the mentors' decades of experience owning small-to-medium sized building businesses.
Florence said the construction industry had been buoyant and resilient in the last few years.
"It is a big contributor ..." he said. "That growth will continue, which is a really positive sign."
Florence said the company's memberships in the Bay had grown about 17 per cent in the past year.
He said it was "incredibly important" to ensure young builders learned the skills of the trade.
"We have still got a shortage of skilled tradespeople," he said.
Rusty Hammer mentor John "Swampy" Marsh said there had been some "big changes" in the industry since he entered the building trade in 1967.
Marsh arrived in Tauranga in the early 1980s and had seen huge growth in construction in the area.
"I cannot believe how Tauranga has expanded so much," he said. "When we first came up here Marine Parade was just a lot of baches. Now everyone just wants to be there."
He encouraged young builders to enter the trade.
"I have loved every minute of being in the industry," he said. "It is good to see young people coming into the trade, but it's about keeping them in it."