Technology teachers say children are arriving at secondary school with fewer practical skills than in the past.
They blame the problem on primary schools focussing on reading, writing and maths and parents failing to pass skills on to their children.
The subject association - Technology Education New Zealand - says primary schools are focusing so much on literacy and numeracy, children often have little understanding of technology concepts.
It says that can turn children off the subject when they find it too difficult later on.
President of the Graphics and Technology Teachers Association, Kevin Meyer, says today's teenagers have less hands-on experience with tools than their parents.
He says that limits what students can do when they reach secondary school.
"In lots of respects we're actually ending up by teaching very basic projects that perhaps their parents would have done at primary or intermediate school.
"Because we're finding students who honestly don't know the difference between a chisel and a screw driver; and yet they're 13, 14 years old."
The Graphics and Technology Teachers Association and Technology Education New Zealand say there is also a lack of practical or workshop skills among many new technology teachers.
They say most universities require prospective technology teachers to have a degree, and many trades people do not have one.