According to a media release by Scaffolding, Access & Rigging NZ (SARNZ) in December 2014, there is a shortage of registered certified scaffolders who can work at a high standard in New Zealand. This is in part because many had switched professions during downard economic turns in the past. The number of workers has been dropping over the last four years showing a 14% decrease, and the shortage over the next 12 months could be even worse. By camparison, there has been rapid growth of residential construction. There is an estimate of a 10% increase in construction activity expected through 2017 with the peak in 2016.
There is a growing amount of construction in every region of New Zealand, Auckland and Christchurch currently having the most construction needs. Canterbury is filled with construction sites and will continue to increase this year. Other cities such as Hamilton have large construction projects as well.
Major contractors have taken steps to increase their labor force while smaller companies are still falling behind. It takes two years to properly train and qualify a scaffolder. It has been suggested that all scaffolding companys invest in the training and promotion of new workers. Though this would cost them at the onset it would easily be earned back as increased laborers would allow increased projects to be completed.
It is difficult to find enough skilled labor to keep up with the demand. There is an immediate skill shortage in the industry, with an expected long term skill shortage. Companies need to find new apprentices and expand the training process. One way is to raise awareness in and build interest in our field.
There are many opportunities in the field of scaffolding and construction. Students or grads can become temporary workers. New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (NZDE) and New Zealand Diploma in Engineering Practice (NZDEP) students have a lot of opportunities available. Working in the temporary work sector can make transitioning into another area a lot easier because of the type of tasks they will be exposed to.