Parents are raising generation of losers


Tradesmen say young people are almost impossible to employ, with bad literacy, numeracy and work ethic high on the list of problems.

Many have given up on advertising for apprentice roles, saying they have no hope of finding suitable applicants.

Ken Monk of Montage Kitchens has been a joiner in Hamilton for 34 years, and sits on the Employer Partnership Group for the manufacturing, construction and the trades at Wintec.

He said problems with literacy, numeracy and attitude were common with hiring young people these days.

Among the issues he’d dealt with were “absenteeism; they don’t want to sweep the floor; don’t want to clean the toilet”.

“I clean the toilet,” he said. Young people also expected to get paid much more than was realistic, and tended to “know it all, they don’t like to be told”.

“Their whole attitude has changed. They’ve been mothered, they’ve been spoiled.”

Kids are fruit of the tree that are their parents.  

Monk thought the problem started with the parents. “You always want them to do better [than you], and so you actually spoil them a bit. So we actually have a generation of spoiled kids.”

Finding good workers was so hard that Monk didn’t advertise for apprentices because of all the “filtering out” needed.

“We actually go hunting for the person. Some people do [advertise], but that’s not very often either.”

However, Monk said employers needed to be realistic about what it took to deal with the current generation.

“We always have issues with young guys . . . but you work with them and, by the time they come out the other end, they’re usually really good kids.”

Gayelene Woodcock has run Waikato Plumbing Services with her husband since 1986. She said the issue with younger people was becoming more evident now that work was picking up, and experienced plumbers were in short supply, thanks to the Christchurch and Auckland building booms.

Woodcock said the company had to work hard to find youngsters with good attitude, literacy and numeracy skills. The risk of taking on youngsters was high for the family-owned business, which worked on the basis it would make a loss the equivalent of the Jobseeker benefit on an apprentice in the first year, and would only start to make money off them in the third year.

These kids will be lost to the system.  They get to late teens and early twenties and their expectations of the world are simply impossible to meet.

Another problem is that kids with good literacy and numeracy skills do not see themselves going into a trade.  This is actually somewhat shortsighted.  A good plumber is never out of work and charges like a dentist.

Trades have traditionally been seen as the destination for kids who can’t cut it academically.  But now they also have the additional handicap of having been told all their lives they are too good for that kind of work.


– Narelle Henson, Waikato Times

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

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