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First world plumbing conference

28 February 2005

First world plumbing conference

The first World Plumbing Conference to be held in New Zealand opens this Thursday (March 5) in Auckland attended by 300 delegates from 14 countries.

The international event, which has attracted speakers from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand, will focus on the important role plumbing plays in public health, the role of the plumber in protecting the environment, leading edge tools and concepts which impact on plumbing and ways to improve the profitability and efficiency of businesses.

The conference – hosted by Master Plumbers, Gasfitters & Drainlayers NZ Inc and held at Sky City Convention Centre from March 3-5 – will also review what the world has learnt from the SARS epidemic, and explore “the baby boom influence.”

Master Plumbers chief executive, George Verry, says the impact of the baby boom on shortages of skilled tradespeople is “an almost worldwide phenomenon.”

Mr Verry, who is also treasurer of the World Plumbing Council which organizes the conference, says delegates will hear that as high as 77 percent of the baby boomers in plumbing trades in the United States and Canada were expected to retire in the next 25 years

“That projected figure will dramatically increase if the trend towards early retirement continues. Countries need an aggressive workforce replacement programme to address the anticipated skills shortages,” he says.

A recent survey in New Zealand identified a shortage of almost 1500 tradespeople – registered craftsmen, plumbers, gasfitters, drainlayers and apprentices- by the end of this year.

“We must find new ways of training and new ways to recruit a workforce that may be very different to the traditional model we have been used to.”

Mr Verry led a team to South African in 1999 to pitch for the 7th World Plumbing Conference, and came away saying they were “pretty proud of what we secured for New Zealand.

The conference will be formally opened by the Minister of Health, Annette King, on Thursday morning with a speech emphasizing the plumber’s role in public health.
The overall theme is “our water, our wealth, our health.”


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