19 February 2014
New Zealand’s construction industry is expected to attract a wave of emigration from around the world as it tries to fill skills shortages ahead of rapidly expanding demand.
Expectations of "the biggest boom in 40 years" were described in a recent report from the National Construction Pipeline, which predicted 10% year on year growth in demand for building services over the next five years.
Site managers, planners, surveyors and inspectors are among the roles sought as Christchurch and the Canterbury region rebuilds after a series of earthquakes in 2011.
But the report said the main driver would be the city of Auckland, which is expected to show a 150% increase in housing demand in the period up to 2018.
The New Zealand government is trying to lure workers from abroad with promises of abundant work and a high standard of living. One official website said: "There are some excellent opportunities for construction workers right now – and a lifestyle you just won’t find anywhere else."
Building work has been given an extra push by the rebuilding effort following the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes (Wikimedia Commons)
According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, demand for skilled workers is already outstripping supply.
And an industry survey released in June 2013 found that, nationwide, nearly 66% of employers are having trouble finding "the right people for the job". The situation is even worse in Canterbury where four out of five employers are finding recruiting skilled professionals is "a significant hurdle".
The ministry estimates that the strongest demand will be for highly skilled managerial and professional jobs across a number of disciplines. These are expected to account for about 50% of the overall employment growth.
The government’s recruitment site commented: "Remember, if your job is on a skill shortage list and you have the qualifications and experience to match, the work visa application process is likely to be faster. And you may even be able to apply for a resident visa."
The boom is also having a positive effect on the property market which could lead to further jobs for migrants. According to job site Seek, real estate and property jobs rose by 29% last year.