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More investment in training needed to fix housing shortage

Construction firms are reporting it is harder to find skilled workers, showing the Government’s failure to invest in training is contributing to the housing crisis, says Labour’s Skills and Training spokesperson Jenny Salesa.

“The construction industry is finding it hard to get the workers it needs with 58% of firms reporting vacancies in hard-to-fill jobs, according to Statistics New Zealand. Since 2008, the number of people training in building-related qualifications has risen by just 7%, despite surging demand for houses.

“We need to build a lot more houses, and that means a lot more construction workers. Labour will introduce Dole for Apprenticeships to incentivise construction firms to take on apprentices. We’ll also make three years’ tertiary education and training fees free, which will help more people get the qualifications the construction industry needs.

“National passed up a golden opportunity to expand and upskill our construction workforce following the Canterbury earthquakes. Instead, they chose to rely on imported labour. If we had built up our construction workforce then, we would now have the people we need to meet the demand for new houses nationwide and fill the housing shortage.

“The shortage of skilled workers is driving up build costs, and contributing to reports of shoddy building work.

“Because of National’s failure to invest in our people, the housing shortage stands at 60,000 and is growing by over 1,000 houses a month. National hasn’t got a clue what to do. The housing shortage is driving up rents and mortgage payments, eating up the small wage increases families are getting.

“Training and upskilling our construction workforce is a key plank of Labour’s comprehensive housing plan. It will facilitate our 100,000 house KiwiBuild plan and our commitment to building thousands more state houses,” says Jenny Salesa.