Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook | Main MBIE Site

Construction Workers

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Income
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Fees
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Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Job prospects for construction workers are good over the next few years, due to growing building activity in Auckland and the continuing rebuild occurring in Canterbury. Other regions still have many opportunities.

How to become a construction worker

What they do

Construction workers work on big and small building sites, and on roads and other large civil construction projects. Mostly they do manual labouring, but they can be involved in all aspects of the construction process that do not require a trade apprenticeship or graduate qualifications. Construction workers often assist qualified builders in specific areas, and some may work towards a specific qualification in building.

As well as labouring, more specialised, non-trade roles are available in construction work. These include concrete work, fencing, building insulation, scaffolding, mining, crane operation, and other construction or earth-moving machinery operation. Some of these roles require more specialised skills and training.

Qualifications

There is no entry requirement for most kinds of construction work. Most skills are learned on the job, although employers also often put their construction workers through short courses relevant to a specific job. For example, a firm with a large number of road construction jobs may put many of their workers through a traffic management course.

Two kinds of construction work that do require specific qualifications are scaffolding and crane operation. No qualifications are needed to work as a scaffolders’ labourer, but they must work under the supervision of a qualified scaffolder. However, a qualified scaffolder needs to hold at least a New Zealand Certificate in Scaffolding (Level 3). This qualification takes three years to complete.

A New Zealand Certificate in Crane Operation (Levels 3 and 4) is needed to work as a crane operator. Before starting this, a New Zealand Certificate in Cranes – Dogman Operations must be completed. These qualifications take three years or less to complete.

Some secondary schools, polytechnics and private training establishments also offer national certificates in construction skills, usually at Level 2 or 3. These certificates can be useful for people looking to get their first job in construction.

While there are generally no formal education requirements, construction workers need to be physically fit because of the nature of the work. Many employers also require new employees to pass a drug test before starting on the job.

Cost of study

Learn on the job
$0

The least expensive way to start as a construction worker is to apply for positions and, if successful, learn on the job. Employers will sometimes pay for new workers to complete certifications if any are needed.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: www.tenancy.govt.nz/rent-bond-and-bills
StudyLink: www.studylink.govt.nz
Sorted: www.sorted.org.nz/calculators/money-planner

Where to study

Construction skills can be studied at secondary schools, polytechnics, and private training providers throughout New Zealand. However, in most instances, formal training before starting work in an entry-level construction worker role is unnecessary.

For scaffolders and crane operators, the Skills Organisation is the Industry Training Organisation (ITO) that handles apprenticeships and qualifications. Apprenticeships can be completed in all parts of the country.

The Skills Organisation: skills.org.nz

Licensing

Licensing is not required for most construction work. However, a driver’s licence may be useful and necessary in some instances.

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing Level 4 certificates in the broader category Building has been around 1,500 for the last seven years. This means there should be a steady flow of new tradespeople in most building trades. 

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects

Income

The average annual income for construction workers is estimated to be around $49,000. Inexperienced construction workers are likely to start out on the minimum wage.

Estimated Average Income
$49,000

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Construction workers’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2020 2025
27,339 28,758 40,660 46,391
  0.7% 5.1% 2.7%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the category “Construction and Mining Labourers”.

Over the next few years, we expect there will be increasing demand for construction workers in Auckland due to increasing building activity to support the city’s active housing market and large civil construction projects. The Canterbury rebuild will also continue to employ workers for the next few years. Work there will eventually slow, and, past 2020, a decline in construction employment in Canterbury is expected, but there will still be opportunities in other parts of New Zealand.

Employment chart

                       

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
7% 17% 5% 72% $34,500

Source: Ministry of Education: Employment Outcomes of Tertiary Education

Two years after completing a Level 4 Certificate in Building, 72% of graduates were employed and 17% were in further study. The median annual salary was around $34,500.  

Scaffolders are on Immigration New Zealand’s Immediate Skill Shortage List (for all regions), and the Canterbury Skills Shortage list. This means the government is actively encouraging skilled people in the role to come and work in New Zealand. A full list is available on the Immigration New Zealand website.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list: skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz

Where to find job vacancies

The number of online job vacancies for construction workers has increased strongly since 2010/11, driven by rebuilding after the Christchurch earthquakes and then by the strongly growing construction sector in Auckland.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Construction worker vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.

Trade Me Jobs: www.trademe.co.nz/jobs
Seek: www.seek.co.nz 

Career path

Construction workers sometimes get apprenticeships and go on to become skilled tradespeople. The Building & Construction Industry Training Organisation BCITO is the ITO that organises the apprenticeship schemes for most building trades. BCITO’s website has ideas on what trades a construction labourer can move into.

BCITO, Career options: www.bcito.org.nz/get-career/career-options

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level construction workers.

  • Bricklayer
  • Building Insulator
  • Carpenter
  • Concrete Worker
  • Crane Operator
  • Earthmoving Machine Operator
  • Fencer
  • Labourer
  • Miner/Quarry Worker
  • Painter
  • Plumber
  • Roading Construction Worker
  • Scaffolder

Other information

Links

More information on construction workers is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand: www.careers.govt.nz

ANZSCO

The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of construction workers has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

821 – Construction and Mining Labourers