Apprentice uptake by new businesses in the trades
Key findings

There is a relationship between the odds of a business surviving and if they took on an apprentice. It was found that of the businesses that survived 14 years, 83% of them either currently had an apprentice or had previously employed one. It was found that some businesses have an aversion to taking on an apprentice. If those businesses took on an apprentice, they may have a better chance of not going out of businesses within their first 14 years of operation.


There are several reasons why a business should take on an apprentice, with benefits both for the business and the industry. This report is a follow on from Employer training engagement with ITOs. In that report, the engagement of businesses with apprentices was explored based on business size, while in this report the focus is more on business maturity. It is useful to understand the likelihood of a business taking on an apprentice based on their maturity to assess if there is the capacity for more businesses to take on apprentices. This report also demonstrates the survival rates of businesses that took on an apprentice against those who did not.

Tracking new businesses in the trades

The chart below tracks businesses from their birth year based on whether they are still in business or not. Of those that are still in business, they are classified by if they have employees, and if so, do they have an apprentice or have previously had one. In the birth year, most businesses are sole traders. It can be observed that after 10 years, 71% of businesses go out of business. After 14 years only 25% of businesses survive. Just over 13% of businesses will take on an apprentice in their first year, which increases slightly to 17% in the second year as more businesses take on an apprentice.

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Limiting to employers only

If the chart is narrowed down to include businesses that have employees only, therefore excluding sole traders and out of business, most businesses that are still in business have an apprentice or have had one in the past. Of the businesses with employees, a business that was born in 2007 was five times as likely to still be in business after 14 years if they have had an apprentice within their lifetime.

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Sankey flow diagram

This Sankey flow chart demonstrates the transition of businesses between being a sole trader, an employer without an apprentice, an employer with an apprentice and out of business. Maturity demonstrates how many years the business has been in operation.

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Year on year apprentice uptake

This chart takes the information from the above Sankey flow chart and works out the percentage of those who are not currently employing an apprentice that will take one on in the following year. Across all businesses in the construction sector there seems to be a correlation with maturity and propensity to pick up an apprentice in the following year, with businesses with employees less likely to pick up an apprentice in the following year the longer they are in business. We can also see a similar but less extreme trend among sole traders.

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Access to the data used in this study was provided by Stats NZ under conditions designed to give effect to the security and confidentiality provisions of the Data and Statistics Act 2022. The results presented in this study are the work of the author, not Stats NZ or individual data suppliers.

These results are not official statistics. They have been created for research purposes from the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) which is carefully managed by Stats NZ. For more information about the IDI please visit

The results are based in part on tax data supplied by Inland Revenue to Stats NZ under the Tax Administration Act 1994 for statistical purposes. Any discussion of data limitations or weaknesses is in the context of using the IDI for statistical purposes, and is not related to the data's ability to support Inland Revenue's core operational requirements.


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