Report on stakeholders’ assessments of key aspects of the LBP scheme

MBIE has carried out some research to find out what people involved in the building industry think about the Licensed Building Practitioners (LBP) scheme. We’re now sharing a report of our findings, together with details about what we plan to do next.

The purpose of the LBP scheme is to encourage competent building practitioners to build homes right the first time, and give consumers the information they need to make decisions about the skill levels of building practitioners.

The scheme hasn’t been formally reviewed since it was established in 2007, so MBIE decided to take a look to see whether and how it could be improved, both now and for the future. This is separate to the work being done to review LBP fees, which need adjusting to make sure the scheme has enough resources in the short term.

We spoke to a sample of LBPs, building consent officers, industry groups and non-licensed builders from three regions around NZ to get direct feedback from the building industry about how the scheme is working in practice. We focused our questions on four aspects of the scheme – workforce capacity, competence, supervision and licensing classes.

Overall, most of the people we interviewed felt the scheme is valuable, but could be made better in each of the areas we looked at:

Industry feedback

MBIE response

LBP workforce capacity (i.e. numbers of skilled and competent practitioners)– while workforce capacity is an issue across the whole building industry, it is also being affected by building practitioners’ perceptions of the value of joining the LBP scheme.

MBIE agrees that workforce capacity is an issue across the whole building industry, including the LBP scheme. The Government has developed a Construction Skills Strategy and Action Plan which will help address workforce capacity issues across the building industry as a whole. You can read more about the Strategy and Action Plan on the MBIE website(external link).

Focussing on the LBP scheme, it’s very useful to understand how career stage affects practitioners’ attitudes towards the scheme. We’ll take these insights into account in our work to improve the scheme and as we promote the scheme to different types of building practitioners.

Competence – building practitioners are critical of the minimum competence standards set by the scheme and the way competence is assessed and maintained.

The LBP scheme is based on a minimum competence standard because this was the most appropriate way to start regulating building practitioners. If we’d set the standard too high when the scheme started, it could have severely disrupted the building industry.

Now that the scheme is well established and significant numbers of practitioners are licensed, we see an opportunity for the scheme to help raise competence levels in the building industry. For example, we’re looking at how the scheme recognises different levels of competence (e.g. skills, experience and behaviours) - we’ll take industry feedback from the report into account as we scope this work.

Supervision – there are concerns about the level and quality of supervision provided by LBPs.

MBIE is also concerned about current supervision practices and appreciates this feedback. We’re looking more broadly at effective supervision in the work we’re doing to review the system of occupational regulation (see below). This work will ensure improved and consistent practice across the sector.

Licensing classes – industry thinks licensing classes may need to be adjusted to better protect consumers and reflect industry practice.

MBIE agrees that it could be a good time to think about changes to licensing classes. We’re looking at the role licence classes play in the scheme and their contribution to the outcomes of the building system. We’re also looking at specific changes to licensing classes, such as a proposal to include construction stonemasonry in the LBP scheme.

We value this feedback from the building industry and will feed what we’ve found out into the work we’re doing to review the system of occupational regulation, including the LBP scheme.

Over the next few months we’ll be reflecting on what we’ve heard and prioritising areas for improvement – we expect to come back to industry later this year with more detail.

The building industry is experiencing a period of significant growth, which makes it more important than ever that we have the right systems in place to ensure the competence of the country’s building practitioners. MBIE is committed to ensuring the scheme works now, and into the future.