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Where does the trades sector source its talent?
Key findings

In trade industries there are more new workers over the age of 35 each year than there are under the age of 25. In terms of the sources of these new workers only 5% of workers arrived directly out of secondary school, while half were career changers working in another industry.

These results are similar to our findings for the food and fibre sector, giving weight to the opinion that talent attraction strategies should hold more of a focus on older talent, than those fresh out of high school.

We notice a growing trend in the reliance on migrant labour. In 2010 they accounted for only 3.4% of new workers, while in 2018 they contributed to 10% of new workers. Regionally, these migrant workers are mostly working in Auckland, Canterbury, Otago and Marlborough.

Introduction

Understanding where new talent has historically be sourced from can help inform talent attraction strategies. Historically these strategies have often focused on school leavers with programs such as career expos, job visits, school curriculum and school clubs. Historical we find that young and straight out of secondary school persons make up only a small fraction of new talent entering trade industries, with most arriving with some years of work experience in another industry.

Age

There are more new workers each year above the age of 35 than there are under the age of 25. Over time the distribution of ages seems to remain fairly steady.

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Methodology

New entrants are defined as persons who first work at least three months above a minimum wage threshold of 120 hours (30 hours across 4 weeks). Age is determined at the time of starting work.

Source

The source of new entrants is what we'll define as the primary activity of each new worker in the year leading up to starting work. Career changers, persons with full time work experience another industry and no tertiary enrollments, make the majority of new entrants into trade sectors. This is not be too surprising since over two thirds of new workers are above the age of 25.

There is a growing reliance on migrant labour. In 2010 inflow of new migrant workers was at its lowest, contributing to only 3.4% of all new entrants. Since then the number of new migrant workers has steadily climbed and in 2018 made up 10% of all new entrants in the trades. Auckland, Canterbury, Otago and Marlborough seem to be leading the demand for migrant workers.

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Methodology

New entrants are defined as persons who first work at least three months above a minimum wage threshold of 120 hours (30 hours across 4 weeks). Of these new entrants we define their primary activity in the year leading up to starting work order of:

  1. Secondary school enrollments
  2. Tertiary enrollments
  3. Work in other sectors (career changers)
  4. Visa status (migrants)
  5. Overseas spells (returning kiwis)
  6. Beneficiaries
  7. Other

Such that a person with a tertiary enrollment and who is working in another sector in the year leading up to starting work in carpentry will be recorded once only as a tertiary student.

Sector of career changers

The below chart breaks down the sector that career changers were working in. The most common sector that career changers arrive from is the wider related sector, i.e. moving between different industries within the construction sector. However in total these career changers only make up about a quarter of all career changers, with the majority arriving from unrelated sectors.

*Note that labour supply businesses will fall under 'Administrative and support services'.

Methodology

New entrants are defined as persons who first work at least three months above a minimum wage threshold of 120 hours (30 hours across 4 weeks).

Career changers are new entrants who do not have secondary or tertiary education records in the previous year, but some work experience (at least 3 months of full time work) in some other industry.

Dislcaimer

Access to the anonymised data used in this study was provided by Statistics New Zealand in accordance with security and confidentiality provisions of the Statistics Act 1975, and secrecy provisions of the Tax Administration Act 1994. The findings are not Official Statistics. The results in this paper are the work of the authors, not Statistics NZ, and have been confidentialised to protect individuals, households, businesses, and other organisations from identification. Read our full disclaimer here.

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Where do apprentices end up?

Most apprentices retain in their respective industries after completing training, with many progressing into self-employment

trades workforce supply New entrants Talent attraction