There's a call for public organisations to step in and employ apprentices being laid off by private firms during the recession.
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union believes district health boards, local councils and their trading organisations could include apprentices within their maintenance departments.
The EPMU public services organiser Ron Angel says such a move would combat unemployment and ensure New Zealand can take advantage of the next economic upturn.
He says the idea has merit as it came from the union's industry council, comprising electricians, fitters and mechanics.
"It is not a directive from some policy person. This is guys from the ground up saying this is what we would really help us, and apprentices," he said.
Mr Angel says delegates will be promoting the idea to their employers over the next fortnight.