Home' Auckland City Harbour News : April 6th 2011 Contents 4 AUCKLAND CITY HARBOUR NEWS, APRIL 6, 2011
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Melanie asks: What about me?
It looks as if there s been a bit of
chat over smoko this week about
apprenticeships and the problems
About bureaucrats in Wellington,
white collar men who don t know
one end of a spanner from another,
about training conditions which
don t match the needs of the trades.
And about companies who wave
bigger packets -- and cleaner
overalls -- to lure good young guys
away from trades that need them --
and skills the country depends on.
Also in the mailbag, a plea for a
chance from a qualified and jobless
electrician called Melanie.
Dave Roberts -- I m a toolmaker,
served my time in the United King-
dom. At 25 I applied for a New
migration. I arrived in 1966, worked
in most of the larger companies that
employed toolmakers. The only
Kiwis in the industry then were
Ninety-nine percent of all the
toolmakers I ve worked with until
the late 90s were foreigners -- Brits,
Germans, Dutch, Americans,
French, Hungarian, Chinese, Thai.
During that time, very few
apprentices -- and I worked with
plenty -- carried on with their trade.
Most gave it away in the first few
months of qualifying.
I started my own engineering
business in the 80s, to train
apprentices, to pass on my know-
ledge and skills that I had acquired
over the years.
What a waste of time, with no
legal contract over apprenticeships.
Most only lasted two to three years
-- lured away as semi-skilled
workers for manufacturing compan-
ies. You ll be aware that most
trainees are pretty useless for the
first six months. They need a huge
amount of attention and supervis-
They are really starting to show
promise -- when they approach with
a demand for a large raise, which
has been promised by a third party.
And they re gone.
The other problem, most young
people have an inflated value of
their worth, and wish to be brain
surgeons, architects, computer
wizards. Not to wear overalls, and
do manual work. So you never see
or meet the really bright students.
Only the lower grades apply for
what are considered manual jobs.
I still work at my trade and I am
69. I have no problem securing
work, because the barrel of toolma-
kers is fairly empty.
Robin Trevallion -- I came from
the UK seven years ago as a quali-
fied gasfitter. I have had two Kiwi
lads doing their plumbing training
and needing to work with a gasfitter
to complete their plumbing appren-
I have trained many apprentices
in more than 30 years as a gasfitter
and can honestly say they were two
of the best that I have had.
Unfortunately both failed their final
exams and have left the plumbing
Why? A plumbing apprentice in
New Zealand has to have knowledge
of plumbing, both commercial and
domestic, roofing, spouting,
refrigeration, air conditioning and
This is far too much. My gasfit-
ting apprenticeship alone was a
five-year fulltime undertaking. The
plumbing apprenticeship should be
a three-year deal with roofing,
refrigeration and air-conditioning
as optional extras served at the end.
Gasfitting should be a separate
three-year apprenticeship at the
end of which you have one class of
gasfitter who has been trained to a
level allowing him or her to sign off
their own work.
New Zealand has two categories
of gasfitter, a registered gasfitter,
ie, a plumber -- and a certified gas-
fitter. Every job done by a regis-
tered gasfitter is supposed to be
supervised, checked and signed off
by someone certified.
Only one problem with this --
there aren t enough certifying gas-
fitters to cope. By law every house-
holder who has a gas installation
has to have a gas certificate. If they
don t have one, home insurance
could be invalid along with the
possibility that the work hasn t
been carried out properly.
Why aren t there enough certify-
ing gasfitters? Any registered gas-
fitter who wants to become a
certifier has to sit examinations on
building codes, health and safety
legislation, employment law, tax
law and GST. Plus local authority
legislation and government bodies
involved with building legislation.
They then have to buy expensive
additional testing equipment, go to
at least two training days per year
and a day s audit once every two
years -- forever.
If they fail to comply with any of
these conditions they lose their
licence to work. This is regulated by
the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drain-
layers Board to ensure public
safety. Fair enough, except that
there hasn t been any deaths in
New Zealand attributed to faulty
The accidents have been caused
by portable gas cabinet heaters that
are not covered by the gas legis-
lation. This type of appliance is
banned in Europe and I think now
in Australia as well.
No wonder youngsters don t want
to be tradesmen!
Bill Smythe: I too am a veteran
roofing, upskilled in 1994 for extra
qualification. But I m finding all
these new, upgrading, re-skilling
requirements a bit daunting.
I ve been in business since 1960,
all my working life as a licensed,
I m a real plumber -- 12 years
training, 12,000 hours apprentice-
Never had any complaints or
fines on any of my licences -- mainly
concentrating on commercial work
ie, Sanitarium Health Food, Manu-
kau Knitting Mills, Devonport
Naval Base, etc.
But the powers that be in Wel-
lington seem to think I don t know
what I m doing. I keep telling them
I m not a halfwit. My first million
dollars was the worst, how was
Have they made theirs yet?
In Wellington everybody s out
clipping the ticket. The New Zea-
land licences are for only one year
($210 for each licence).
In Australia a licence is good for
three years, in Britain it s good for
Experience doesn t happen by
accident. It happens with age. But
we don t recognise this in New Zea-
land -- we export it.
Did you read where the Canberra
government says it needs thousands
of over-65s to go back to work?
PB: Yes I did see that, including a
suggestion that Aussie pensioners
might be allowed to earn up to
NZ$8450 before their pension was
affected. How about that?
Wouldn t it be better to invest in
the potential skills of the young
rather than recalling the old who, at
best, are very much a temporary
and part solution?
Melanie Boyd -- As an unem-
ployed electrician looking for work I
find it irritating to be told there is a
If you know of an employer
seeking an NZCE qualified indus-
trial electrician with more than 15
years New Zealand experience
please let me know.
To contact Pat Booth email
email@example.com or write care of this
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