It is estimated 20,000 extra workers will be needed in Christchurch over the next decade
By Jessica Rowe
The country's first not-for-profit immigration consultancy has been launched in Christchurch to attract skilled migrants to help with the rebuild.
It is estimated 20,000 extra workers will be needed in the city over the next decade.
South African immigrant Cherie Vermaak has just two weeks to find employment, otherwise she will be kicked out of the country.
She lost her job in March after she failed to get a work visa extension.
“Without an income, it is just day-to-day, week-to-week,” she says. “How are we going do this to keep going along?”
She has been receiving help from immigration consultants Mike and Tammy Bell, who successfully migrated to New Zealand 12 years ago and wanted to give back to Christchurch by setting up their own not-for-profit immigration business.
“I would have been totally lost,” says Ms Vermaak. “I would not have got to this point. It is so important that people use places like that and we get more of that sort of business set up.”
They're offering support to skilled migrants and employers here looking for overseas expertise, particularly in areas such as engineering, IT and medicine.
Mr Bell says many migrants struggle to settle, and nearly a quarter end up leaving, costing the economy around $2 billion each year.
“We are talking about people with specific skills and experience that just can't be found in New Zealand,” says Mr Bell. “Once they are here, we need to hang onto them, otherwise we have a great big cost just walking out of the economy.”
All profits will go back into the community.
“One hundred percent of profits will be going towards charitable causes, whether it is supporting new Kiwis, as in new migrants, or whether it is supporting the kiwi breeding programme at Willowbank,” says Ms Bell.
In the past year, more than 300 visas have been granted to assist with the rebuild, with the highest number of migrants coming from Britain, Ireland and the Philippines.