A photograph of Dave in a workshop.

What Employers Want

A photograph of Dave in a workshop.

One thing we heard over and over again from the trades employers in our focus groups was, “You can teach skills but you can’t teach attitude.”

Lack of direct experience isn’t always a barrier to getting a job in the trades.

With COVID-19 causing a shortage of fully qualified staff, a lot of employers are prepared to provide training for people with potential and a good attitude.

If you can pick up a toddler you could pick up a trade, If you can parallel park, you could drive a crane. If you’ve worked in a variety of jobs, or you’ve managed a family household, you’ve already developed skills that easily transfer to the trades. Skills like these:

  • A willingness to learn
  • Positivity
  • A can-do attitude
  • Resilience (Being flexible and adaptable)
  • Trustworthiness
  • Reliability
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Time management
  • People management
  • Budgeting
  • Organisational skills
  • Multi-tasking


Don’t just list these skills on your CV. Think of times when you’ve demonstrated these skills in a real-world situation so you can recall examples to use in interviews.

If some of those things sound a bit fancy, or you’re worried you don’t quite understand what some of them mean, just give ‘em a google, and you’ll probably go, “Oh yeah. I do that all the time!”

This quote from an employer in Dunedin says it all:

“I would hire based on; where’s your moral compass at?
Tell me, are you going to get out of bed in the morning and get to work on time without being hounded to do so? Are you going to be presentable? Are you going to be ready to work, are you willing to work hard, and are you willing to learn? Are you willing to receive feedback? If you tick all of those boxes, you’ve got the job. If you haven’t got the skills, don’t worry, we’ll teach you because the people off-the-shelf to slot into the job just don’t exist anymore. You’ve got to go into it deliberately prepared, ready with an understanding of that, and advertise as such. To say, ‘Look, hey, don’t worry if you don’t have the skills. Don’t worry if you don’t have the experience. If your attitude’s in the right place, come talk to us.”

Probably the most important skill you’ll need when you start in the trades is the ability to authentically be yourself. Wellington tradeswoman, Joy, sums it up beautifully;

“It’s ok to be shy. You don’t need to be someone else. Just stick to your work and be you. When someone gives me a hard time I remember I’m not there for them. I’m there for me and my family. Don’t let anyone get in your way”