31 Jul 2018

Enticing people into trades work

From Afternoons, 1:29 pm on 31 July 2018

It's no secret New Zealand is facing a shortage of skilled trades workers, and one Wellington company says it's focused on changing the "builder's crack" image to recruit women, older people and those considering tertiary education. 

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The NVE team. Photo: Copyright © 2018 Mel Waite Photography

It's estimated up to 60,000 more workers may be needed over the next five years, so New Vision Enterprise a Wellington plumbing company decided it needed to get creative and has created an ad campaign it's hoping will entice new staff to the trades.

New Vision Enterprises manager Jared Wood says the aim is to get people to have a laugh and actually engage.

“Some of the recruitment videos out there, they’re made really well but within five, ten seconds you’re switching on to the next thing."

He says the difficulties aren't just in attracting new people to the industry, but having to actually teach those people the skills they need. 

“We’ve been doing quite a lot of work on recruiting young people, and getting really good motivated young people on board and we’ve got that … but what we really need are the mentors,” he says. 

He says they’re looking for older people as well. 

“That’s in their 50s or 60s … we’ve actually got one employee who turned 70 on Sunday, he started at the company about 15 years ago and up until recently he’s been working full time, 40 hours a week or more, on the tools with our guys because it’s needed. 

“His experience and skill set’s been necessary to help them along. We’re hoping to put him in a different role, a lot more mentoring and training." 

More women are needed to join the team too.

A plumber fixes a pipe with a wrench.

Photo: 123RF

“Not only is it important for homeowners and our clients to be feeling comfortable but it also brings a really nice dynamic to the business. 

“Our owner is a female, she’s an architectural draftsperson, designer ... it’s really important to provide that balance.”

He says the company’s worked hard to move away from the “builder's crack” image of tradespeople. 

“You get these images and these impressions of what it is to be a tradesperson, and we’ve really tried to change that within our business and that’s really helped us."

He thinks that’s changing, however.  

“People like the idea of working with their hands, they like the idea of being well paid to do it, being paid while they’re being trained." 

Wood says the main qualities they’re looking for in staff come down to empathy and the right attitude.

“As a business we know what it takes to even just mentor someone along, it takes a lot of internal resources but I think anyone with the right attitude - certainly for our business that’s the main thing, again, is just stepping in the door and having the right attitude.” 

The money and perks are good too,

“You get vehicles, you get phones, you get cooked breakfast on a Monday morning, there are a lot of perks." 

“I’ve spoken to lawyers and accountants that are extremely surprised at what it offers." 

Mr Wood says he’s heard of business owners in the industry making $140,000 a year.  

“These are well set up businesses that have been around for a while and they’re running really well but that’s the kind of ceilings that we’re talking about."