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South Island's best . . . Oamaru builder Ben Bringans was named southern apprentice of the year in 2016. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Entries for this year’s Registered Master Builders Apprentice of the Year competition are now open.

This year’s competition is expected to be one of the tightest yet, according to organisers, as New Zealand’s construction and building boom continues.

With one in five new jobs created in the next three years forecast to be in the construction industry, an apprenticeship in the trade offers significant opportunities.

Last year, 164 carpentry apprentices from around the country competed for the title.

Of those, 10 were from the southern region, and Oamaru’s Ben Bringans claimed the southern title.

It is hoped more apprentices from the southern region will enter this year.

Registered Master Builders chief executive David Kelly said there had never been a better time to pursue a career in the trade.

“Construction companies are actively seeking skilled apprentices to fill the current demand. Almost 80% of construction firms reported vacancies last year. By completing an apprenticeship, apprentices can not only earn as they learn, they are also entering a career with great job security.

“Apprentice of the year is a fantastic way to support the industry by showcasing its future leaders.”

The overall 2016 title was won by Callum Bryson, who works for a Palmerston North-based construction firm.

Carpentry apprentices can enter online at the website www.apprenticeoftheyear.co.nz

Entries close on June 6.