A BCITO apprenticeship is the beginning of something great – your career as a qualified professional. All you need to begin is a job, a driver licence and a great attitude.
The second National Construction Pipeline report predicts that building and construction activity across New Zealand will reach unprecedented levels by 2017. Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith says the report "points to the biggest construction boom this country has seen in decades ... a minimum 10 per cent increase in activity every year to 2017, reaching a value of $35 billion." Statistics NZ says that in the September 2014 quarter building activity reached $4 billion for the first time.
“We are looking at the longest sustained period of growth in construction activity in 40 years.” Dr Nick Smith, Building and Housing Minister
According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), career prospects in building and construction look fantastic. There’s increased demand for qualified professionals, and a shortage of people to meet that demand. Compared to other careers, the cost to get a trade qualification is low while the job prospects are high. Once you’re qualified there are opportunities to gain more responsibility (and higher pay) as a manager, contractor or business owner.
Working in building and construction is rewarding – at the end of the day you can look back over what you’ve done and know “I made that”. You can challenge yourself to be a true craftsman while working on some some incredible sites around New Zealand.
“What you achieve on a building site ... it’s so visual. It’s the enjoyment of transforming a house. Very rewarding.” Vince Troake, director, Troake wall and ceiling specialists
Four years after gaining a qualification, a graduated apprentice could be over $100K better off than a university graduate. Apprentices earn a wage as they go, so they don't end up with massive student debt. That equals half a house in many parts of the country – or a bathroom in Auckland.
The building and construction industry requires a diverse range of skilled professionals to make it tick. There’s plenty of room for you to specialise in your trade of choice.
Being qualified is a big tick in the right box. It confirms that your skills are at the level that industry expects. Vince Troake, director, Troake wall and ceiling specialists
If you’re already working as labourer, make more of it by doing an apprenticeship. Gain a professional qualification to recognise skills you’re learning on the job anyway – and open up opportunities for greater responsibility and pay in the future.
Vocational pathway programmes (like Gateway) can help you gain credits towards a qualification by doing some theory work while you're still at school. You may also be able to put any relevant NCEA credits you have towards a qualification. You can start your apprenticeship as soon as you have a job.
An apprenticeship is a cost effective way to earn a qualification because you’ll earn while you train – you won’t be left with a hefty student loan at the end. Your wage will increase as you progress through your qualification.
In an apprenticeship you get mentored by your employer. An experienced BCITO training advisor will check in regularly to make sure you’re mastering your trade.
If you learn better by doing, then an apprenticeship will suit you. While some theory is involved, most assessment is based on what you do on the job each day. Depending on the trade, you’ll spend a good deal of time outdoors and working with your hands.
You can start an apprenticeship in your current trade job or directly from school. You need a current job in your trade of choice and a driver licence. There are no other entry requirements but it helps to have some background knowledge, work experience and your own transport. A pre-trade qualification can be helpful but it's not necessary.
Your boss may need you to go buy nails, or fetch milk for smoko. A restricted is fine to begin with. It's crucial that you keep your driver licence clean. Learn more about how to get a driver licence.
The Vocational Pathways are a framework to guide young people through education to employment. They help students and prospective employers tailor their NCEA level 2 studies to the skills required in a particular industry, such as construction and infrastructure.
Subjects like design technology, English and maths are important for a career in the building and construction industry.
If you’re in Year 11 or 12, you can do a National Certificate in Building, Construction and Allied Trades Skills (levels 1 and 2) through the BConstructive programme. The Gateway programme is also a good starting point, if your school offers it.
Gateway is a free programme that allows Year 11-13 students to get practical workplace training while they’re still in school so they can make informed decisions about their future career paths. Students can gain NCEA assessment standards to recognise the skills they learn on the job.
Most BCITO trade qualifications cost $2000-4000. This includes the start-up fee and an annual fee for every year you're in training.
If you are required to attend off-job training, these fees are invoiced separately from the fees stated above. You'll receive a prompt-payment discount of $100 each year if you pay your fees before your due date.
The fees cover:
Your workbooks and BCITO learning resources
Your BCITO training advisor's time, which includes:
site visits (four per year)
Fees are charged annually from the date you sign up but you need to pay a minimum deposit when you sign your training agreement. This amount will depend on the trade option you choose. After you've made the deposit, the balance can be paid in full or by direct debit. All BCITO fees must be paid by their due date or your training agreement will be cancelled. You could also be referred to a credit agency for collection. BCITO reserves the right to cancel a training agreement or defer the completion until fees are paid in full.
We'll refund your deposit if you discontinue training within the first 30 days of signing your training agreement – less a 20% administration fee.
It's important to discuss payment of your BCITO fees with your employer before you begin your apprenticeship. Some employers will pay a portion of the fees upfront and have their apprentices pay them back. Others will expect you to pay the fees yourself.
All building and construction jobs require you to work hard and take on a range of responsibilities. Show that you're professional and hardworking from day one to take your career far.
As as an apprentice you'll be expected to:
start early or finish late (depending on the job)
work on large long-term projects or small repair jobs
travel to various job sites
work outside and inside
stick to deadlines
work in noisy or dirty conditions
work at heights or in confined spaces
follow health and safety guidelines
concentrate for extended periods of time
be accurate – other tradespeople rely on your measurements or quantities
work both on your own and as part of a team
listen and communicate well
be comfortable with tools and machinery
maintain your tools
You need your employer's permission to do an apprenticeship. Your employer will train you as you earn a wage working. They'll ensure your work is up to standard and make sure you master the skills you need to gain your professional qualification. Some employers may require you to do a trial period before they will take you on as an apprentice.
motivated to learn
professional and reliable
proud of their good work
When you begin your apprenticeship, you’ll receive a set of self-paced workbooks with modules related to your practical work onsite. Depending on the trade, you might also go to block courses during your apprenticeship.
You’ll have a BCITO training advisor (TA) during your apprenticeship. Your TA will regularly meet with you onsite to:
ensure you're getting quality training
keep track of what you're learning (and inform you of any potential gaps)
assess your competency
record your assessment results with NZQA
Assessments are based on evidence of practical skills and discussions with your BCITO training advisor. Assessments may require more than one attempt to complete. You will:
receive a resource pack from BCITO, which includes workbooks and reference material
gather evidence (like photos) of your skills and record progress in your workbook
You need a job before you can start an apprenticeship – be well prepared to improve your chances. If you've got your driver licence and could use some help getting a job, complete our work profile form so we can match you with an employer.
Speak to anyone who might help you get a foot in the door – family, friends, teachers or career advisors. Look at the job listings on Trade Me and Seek, or in your local newspaper.
Do some summer work or labouring to gain experience and show future employers you’re motivated to work. Always ask for a reference when you finish a job.
Most employers need you to have a licence. It helps if you have your own vehicle and you’re comfortable backing a trailer.
Include your NCEA Record of Achievement, any work experience you’ve had, and some references. Visit Careers New Zealand for some great tips on CV writing. If you’re still at school, ask your careers advisor for help.
A good apprentice should:
Keep your options open for relocation – at the moment there’s huge demand for apprentices in Auckland.