How are You Going to Attract That Gun Apprentice?


The building industry is booming and we mean booming! You take one look around Auckland and chances are you’ll spot a new scaffold up or building knocked down. Between Auckland’s housing and infrastructure programs and the continued Christchurch rebuild, chances are your company is involved in one way or another. And if you’re not, what are you doing!?

However, with this massive workload on the shoulders of the construction industry, many companies are struggling to find a good crew to carry out the job. Companies are being urged to increase their uptake of New Zealand apprentices to help keep up with all the work and increase the number of keen tradies entering the workforce each year.

If your company is struggling to attract and maintain apprentices, we have brainstormed a few ways to ensure you’ll have an endless supply of rubber nails.


Build a supportive workplace culture

Young kids these days need to feel loved and supported. Gone are the day of throwing them in the deep end and seeing if they sink or swim. Companies, in all industries, are discovering that creating a supportive and welcoming culture is vital to attracting and retaining young workers.

Apprentices want to feel like their work is appreciated and valued on site and by their employers. Creating a supportive culture can be as simple as providing apprentices with an opportunity to solve problems, collaborate on projects or a gentle pat on the back to say well done.

Remember when your teacher made you pair up and follow the buddy system, well this can be translated to the building industry. Another strategy that can be exploited is pairing apprentices up with a mentor. This will give them an opportunity to learn the ropes from a senior member of your company. Whether they want to learn the in’s and out’s of running a site or use the latest technology, this will be an excellent way of fostering the supportive culture they’re after. This vested interest will go beyond just having a happy chappy on site. Your new apprentice will have an extensive skill set and likely to stick around if they’ve earned your respect.


Review the pay package/ incentives

Obviously, one of the major points of difference your company can use to attract apprentices is the fact they earn a wage throughout their traineeship. The average Kiwi apprentice starts on a tad more than minimum wage. On top of this, they don’t accrue that massive ball and chain called a student loan.

This should be a major selling point for construction companies looking to attract a good apprentice. Having a supportive culture and being valued is important but that won’t pay the bills or buy a ticket to RnV. So it should be no surprise that the ability to earn a salary while training is appealing.

If your company is unable to provide a more attractive salary to new apprentices, consider building a compensation package that’ll compliment minimum wage. Whether it’s providing a tool allowance, or paying for course fees. Ultimately, these are expensive things, so any sane apprentice would jump at the opportunity to sign off on those. A tidy insurance package thrown in wouldn’t go amiss either.


Build a career progression path

Young people are ambitious, they want the world and they want it now! This generation’s attitude is: “I either want something now or a want to understand how I can get there.” Not everyone wants world domination but a clear progression path is always an attractive aspect of any company.

Providing your apprentice with a clear understanding of their career prospects and where they could end up in the company will provide them with goals and aspirations to reach for. Along with this clearly defined pathway, grant them learning opportunities that will let them build on their current skills.

This is where a mentor program can really take on a life of its own. Pairing an apprentice with a fellow employee in a position they wish to get to, will provide guidance and encouragement. Putting a face on the goal will make the pathway appear more attainable compared to reading about it from the orientation booklet while in the portaloo.


Understand your reputation

Reputation is everything. People talk and in an industry like ours, it really is 2-degrees of freedom. Because of this, it’s important you understand how you’re viewed within the industry. Apprentices want to work for a company that is highly regarded by their peers.

Whether your reputation is for being innovators, great trainers or a gang of loosely run ratbags, your reputation will have a big impact on the quality and quantity of apprentices at your door.  With people being more connected than ever and information about a company one click away, your public reputation is more important than ever.

Our industry thrives on having new and talented apprentices entering the workforce each year. In today’s current construction boom, they’re even more important. As much as we love to fool around with them, getting them to fetch the left-handed screwdriver or fan-dry a freshly painted wall – we need these guys.


So take steps to ensure that your company is attractive and welcoming to the young fellas. Cause one day they will be building your retirement village.

Related articles