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Builders gather to mark key milestone and discuss critical industry issues

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More than 700 builders will come together in Rotorua on 25-26 May to celebrate the 20thAnniversary of NZCB, which was established to raise standards across the building industry, and to canvass key issues at a time when the sector remains under pressure from growing demand.

NZCB Chief Executive Grant Florence says this is a timely opportunity to look back at how significantly the industry has changed in just two decades, as well as to address the challenges ahead including the looming skills shortages and the implications of this for build quality.

"NZCB was established by a forward-thinking group of builders in 1998 who wanted to actively promote industry excellence by creating a trade association with more rigorous eligibility criteria. Our conference is a unique opportunity for founding members and other builders that have joined since to celebrate that enduring commitment to raising the bar across the industry," says Mr Florence.

From its inception, NZCB has required builders to hold a formal building trade qualification to be eligible for membership, and it remains the only one of New Zealand’s two building trade associations that requires this. While legislative changes in 2012 introduced a licensing regime for builders, there is no requirement for builders to hold formal trade qualifications to be licensed.

As part of this commitment to trade qualification as a way of assuring its member builders are highly skilled, NZCB established ITAB in 2013, which delivers the industry’s most comprehensive apprentice training. It also encourages member builders to take on apprentices, supports the Apprentice Scholarship Trust, and runs an annual NZCB Apprentice Challenge, the final of which will be held at the conference where 19 winners of regional events held nationwide will compete for the national title.

"While the Government has recently introduced a fees-free policy that also applies to trade training, enrolment numbers in apprenticeship schemes have not grown in the first five months of this year. This highlights the active role the industry as a whole needs to continue to play in building the pipeline of skilled tradies," says Mr Florence.

As well as providing its members with ongoing skills development, NZCB also delivers a range of services designed to not only help builders but also for the benefit of consumers. This is best illustrated by its introduction of a new industry-leading building guarantee ‘Halo’ in 2016, which applies on a mandatory basis to any building project over $30,000 that is undertaken by an NZCB member builder. The most comprehensive building guarantee currently available in New Zealand, Halo stacks up well against other building guarantees in a recent Consumer NZ comparison. As well as its strong financial backing (underwritten by Lloyds), it is independently managed, which ensures there’s no conflict of interest in the management of claims.

"The evolution of NZCB’s focus on enabling its members to meet consumer expectations is also reflected by the inclusion in this year’s conference line-up of a consumer panel. Moderated by consumer champion, Gordon Harcourt, the panel includes representatives from Consumer NZ and HOBANZ and will enable builders to get the consumer perspective first-hand," says Mr Florence.

The conference will be held at Energy Events Centre in Rotorua, and will be officially opened by a founding member of NZCB at 1.30pm on Friday 25 May, and closed by another founding member at 4pm on Saturday 26 May. A highlight of the conference will be the Great Apprentice Race at 5pm on 25 May, a fun event that traditionally involves the 19 Apprentice Challenge finalists racing carts they have each constructed during the day, but this year will include a twist.

"NZCB’s member builders are typically from small to medium-sized building firms that offer a full spectrum of residential and light commercial building services. It’s a big deal for them to down-tools for several days to attend the conference, but we have record attendance this year, which reflects the value they place on the opportunity to come together to share best practice in an environment of ever-increasing complexity," says Mr Florence