However, there has been an issue that Brendan has identified throughout his career and it has not been sector-specific. “I have worked in a number of different construction sectors and have seen the same major issue in all, which is that we aren’t bringing on enough apprentices to fill the future work needs. Well, the future is here, and the construction industry is seeing a labour shortfall as a result,” Brendan says.
Metro Direct Southland (previously known as Southland Glass) is part of the Metro Performance Glass business that has branches across New Zealand and has been in operation for more than 30 years. Metro has always had a strong training culture and invests heavily in the development of their people, Brendan says, "Over the 35 years of operation we have introduced many of our staff members to training, some have just been on the job learning but most have been through the official apprenticeship process.”
Currently, Metro Direct Southland has five apprentices going through their BCITO glazing qualification which is part of a wider group of more than 80 apprentices completing both glazing and glass processing qualifications across the Metro Performance Glass business. Brendan says, “With the current levels of activity in the building sector there is a need to look at having a capable workforce to satisfy the market needs. We know that employing tradespeople is difficult, and everyone is in the same boat. By bringing on more apprentices we are adding to the number of qualified staff in the market.” Metro Direct Southland are also taking the opportunity to round out the skill sets of their experienced staff members by getting them through a qualification via the Experience Recognition Programme. “This means that a couple of our long term staff can finally say that they too are qualified tradesmen. As an industry we should be aiming to continually add qualified staff to the employee pool, as there seems to be no slowing down in the construction sector,” says Brendan.
As for those employers who are thinking about putting their staff through a formal qualification, Brendan thinks it’s a no brainer. He says, “I have been really impressed by the calibre of applicants who have expressed an interest in getting a trade and working for Metro Direct Southland. Yes sometimes it’s difficult to find the staff and of course, training takes time, but in a year or two you forget about the issues at the start and you can see these apprentices growing into fully-fledged glaziers. These are the future leaders of the glazing industry and it’s great to see them evolving through their journey.”
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