Workers may fly in and out of city

Posted 13 Jun 2012 by MediaStuff
Posted in Employment , Rebuild , Media
This item was posted on the Stuff.co.nz website - click here to view the original

 

Flying workers in and out to help with the Canterbury rebuild is likely once the recovery gets away with some needing to come from Australia and beyond.

That is the view of recruitment company Manpower which estimates as many as 25,000 extra workers will be needed at the peak.

Christchurch will need to adopt the tactic of Australian mining firms to satisfy labour needs through long distance, with the Government needing to loosen up immigration rules, Manpower Australia and New Zealand managing director Lincoln Crawley says.

Since the February 22, 2011, earthquake estimates of the number of extra workers has gone as high as 30,000 although in the 2012 Budget lockup Finance Minister Bill English provided the figure of 17,000 more workers needed in the region in the next few years.

Crawley acknowledged the variation in estimates, saying the figure was likely to be closer to 20,000 than 30,000.

"Had the rebuild got under way when it was originally forecast to then the numbers of 30,000-plus would, I think, have been pretty accurate or within the ballpark," he said.

"The longer it is delayed, and it has been delayed, I think . . . closer to the 20,000 than the 30,000 would be my view. The reason for that is that work will be spread out over a longer period . . . it could be as high as 25,000 but I doubt it is going over the 30s."

In terms of the rebuild, residential repairs and ground-based infrastructure were going well, but the actual rebuild work volume remained insignificant.

In whatever case further pre-planning by business leaders and employers was needed to ensure efforts already made overseas to attract workers were not wasted, and that potential immigrants were not turned off by the long wait.

There was significant ongoing interest out of Ireland, Britain and other parts of Europe given that Christchurch had advertised it needed rebuild labour.

However, patience was running out.

"It's almost coming down to a Christchurch branding issue now . . . so there's a bit of a resetting of expectations needed."

Manpower had also lobbied Government on immigration wanting "a much more flexible migration policy."

Getting workers in the construction-mining sector was very competitive.

"[But] we are predicting a huge influx of fly-in/fly-out workers to the region as a way to fulfil recruitment needs. This work force strategy is common for places such as remote Australian mining towns, but unusual in the New Zealand market," Crawley said.

Once adjusted to remove seasonal variations in the data, the country's net employment outlook for the third quarter was +17 per cent.Manpower's forward looking survey of more than 650 employers in New Zealand found that 25 per cent of employers expected to increase hiring, while 9 per cent of employers plan to cut payrolls in the three months to September 30.

In Canterbury's case that figure was much higher at +26 per cent, down 1 percentage point from the June quarter survey result but up 4 percentage points from the third quarter of 2011.

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