Manual professionals have a bright future, and Clutha exemplifies a national trend of young people choosing trades and primary industries as the smart option.
A Construction Training spokesman said in March they had 77% more apprentices than last year, a vital boost to meet the housing demand.
Forestry is booming, looking for recruits and finding them.
‘‘Technology’s revolutionised forestry. Males and females are training for free and making $25 to $30 anhour within their first couple of years,’’ contractor Josh Hurring said.
Besides logging operations, his Balclutha depot is a centre for forestry trainees with the right stuff.
‘‘We have the country’s first hybrid›electric forestry harvester and plenty of people want to control a unit like that, but trainees see everything from nurseries to export ships, and there’s massive variety for careers.’’
Expanding trade has the national meat industry paying trainee meat inspectors, including at Finegand, annual incomes estimated at $62,200.
Jacob Gray (16) said desks, bookwork and student loans were never his thing.
He proved his diligence with part› time work and snapped up an automotive apprenticeship at Mike Knowles Mechanical as soon as he was eligible.
‘‘Now I’m paid to do what interests me,’’ he said.
Zane Tuhuna grew up around engines and followed advice to get a trade. Learning on the job at Duffy’s Engineering, he will be qualified in his early 20s with skills sought worldwide.
‘‘If you can cut and weld steel you can create anything. That’s quite a powerful feeling,’’ he said.
Supporting apprentices at Duffy’s Engineering was Bruce Graham, who qualified as a fitter› turner›machinist in 1977.
‘‘Skilled workers are in serious demand, incomes show that, and with the push for more, we have to take care that schools, employers, family, co›workers and trainers prioritise high standards. Tradies should consider themselves craftsmen. We don’t mind getting dirty because the money and respect is all in the confidence and quality of our work,’’ he said.
Industry training became fragmented and archaic over decades and university was prioritised to school leavers. A practical skills shortage has schools promoting manual careers and the Government backing trades and primary industries with fees›free courses.
The Clutha Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs — Jobbortunities — is keeping up with the trade surge, facilitating 44 trainees since August 2020.
Jobbortunities manager Ruth Carraway said, ‘‘Apprentices learn important work etiquette from a young age and instead of education leading to debt, you’re earning while you learn something that can take you around the world.’’