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It's time big business and the government collaborated to introduce effective long-term upskilling programmes to relieve skills shortages affecting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in New Zealand, according to a senior SME adviser.

Harry Ferreira, Head of Small Business for BNZ, says the problem facing SMEs is global, well-known and difficult to solve - but a focused series of programmes would address the shortage hindering the growth of many companies.

"New Zealand is a growing country - we have a settled economy that is just ticking away nicely. But we just don't have enough people with the skills we need to service the growth we are experiencing."

"So if these skills shortages continue and we don't fix the problem, some smaller companies may go out of business - and that is not a palatable thought for big business here. They need to keep the country and the economy growing.

Main sectors affected were SMEs in construction and trades, engineering, education and hospitality and tourism.

Greg Wallace, CEO of the Master Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Association, says while there is a huge construction boom providing many positive opportunities for his members, "the problem is fulfilling the work."

There were not enough plumbers (600 short in Auckland alone last year) and not enough apprentices coming through: "We think we are about 2000 short - and it's not just an Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch problem."

Apprentices needed six years to become fully certified, he says - "the same amount of time a GP takes to qualify".

Wallace says immigration cannot solve the plumber shortage as no overseas qualifications are recognised here except those from Australia; immigrants from South Africa, for example, have to re-train here.

Ferreira says the skills issue could be classified as a "good problem" but adds: "It'll get worse if we don't move quickly. We have, as a country, the opportunity to be in the forefront of economic growth if we can take advantage of technology and other opportunities - and if we can educate our people to have the skills needed."

Source: NZHerald

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About Ariel Plumbers and Gasfitters

Ariel's business pledge is to satisfy our customers. We are proud to give you the benefit of our experience and capability. We will provide you with a free, no obligation quote.  Contact us anytime you need, whether it is after hours or during the day.

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Freephone: 0508 744 486
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Address: 169 Norman Lesser Drive, St Johns