The UK construction industry may be facing a management exodus after it emerged that more than 800 professionals have recently registered to apply to work in New Zealand in response to an unprecedented recruitment drive.
Against the backdrop of an industry now in recession, the flood of applications comes in response to New Zealand’s offertoÂ pay the airfare of anyone who attends a government-sponsored recruitment fair in February 2018 and lands a job as a result.
New Zealand needs 56,000 construction workers, including 2,200 senior and professional staff, to deliver NZ$125bn (US$88bn, £67bn) of infrastructure work and 100,000 new homes over the next decade.
The charm offensive aimed at the UK is called LookSee Build NZ and was launched by a consortium of government bodies and the New Zealand construction industry represented by its biggest contractors and consultants.
It is the first time New Zealand’s public and private construction sectors have joined forces on international recruitment and comes as the city of Christchurch is still rebuilding after the 2011 earthquake.
Hoping to lure project managers, engineers, surveyors and other professionals, recruiters will also treat jobs fair attendees to quintessentially Kiwi experiences such as the Haka, an international cricket match, surfing and deep sea fishing.
The New Zealand government is also introducing a fast track visa scheme to expedite immigration.
LookSee Build NZ said yesterday that the past few days had seen a 99% increase in website registrations for the jobs fair compared to the two-week period following the campaign launch last month.
A spokesperson told GCR that while the fair is open to people from other countries, the more than 800 recent registrations were "almost exclusively UK construction".
Carl Devereux, regional director of engineering consultant Aurecon, said the need for top talent is so acute it required an innovative approach to talent acquisition.
"Aurecon has a strong pipeline of work, including some of New Zealand’s largest infrastructure projects and hiring global talent ensures we have diversity of thought sitting around the table to solve the complex challenges the engineering industry faces today and into the future," he said.
"Diversity means not only gender but also culture, qualifications and even age – we believe diversity of thought helps us to develop innovative solutions to the problems our communities face today."
Auckland Transport chief infrastructure officer Greg Edmonds said the recent downturn in British construction activity created an ideal employment environment in which to make a pitch to potential migrants to New Zealand.
More information about the recruitment campaign can be found here.
Image: Queenstown, New Zealand, a famous beauty spot. Recruiters are hoping to lure construction professionals with work and lifestyle (queenstownnz.co.nz)