Christchurch recruiters positive on job prospects

19:37, Sep 11 2011
Kelly recruitment
LOOKING FORWARD: Kelly Services NZ managing director Debbie Grenfell, left; chief executive Carl Camden, centre; and Kelly Services Asia Pacific senior vice-president Dhirendra Shantilal.

Recruiting firms say the Christchurch employment market is looking healthy, with businesses looking to boost temporary staff numbers and some of those positions likely to be made permanent.

Like many service companies from the central business district, recruitment firms have had to move out of damaged multi-level tower blocks to more suburban work spaces but they have continued to help fill "situations vacant".

Much of the recent talk of job opportunities has been around the construction industry which will pull in thousands of extra employees, once the Christchurch rebuild ratchets up a notch or two.

But other industries such as engineering and information technology have a hunger for workers, particularly as some staff have left the quake-hit city.

Debbie Grenfell, managing director of Kelly Services NZ which caters to anything from the recruitment of a senior manager down to a temp to fill in for a sick worker, said the firm had not lost focus despite its forced move from the 10th floor of the PricewaterhouseCoopers building on Armagh St.

The company did not work in the construction arena, but it did specialise in services including IT, engineering, public sector, accounting, banking finance, call centre, sales, light industrial and marketing roles. Kelly Services worked with about 2500 temporary workers countrywide – putting them into a temp position, paying that worker then billing the firm for the service provided.

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The agency, part of a Fortune 500 company but with a base in Christchurch since 1996, had 24 staff in the city including its New Zealand head office. It moved into a new building in Leslie Hills Dr in mid-May.

The city employment situation had bounced back from a lull in demand around the February 22 and June 13 quakes. Payments were made to Kelly's temporary workers in employment, even if they did not work in the days after the quakes.

There had been increased demand for the type of workers that might be able to do assessment work for the Earthquake Commission, or work for an insurer on assessment or claims from around the damaged city.

The company had noted significant increases in job advertisements for construction workers.

Overseas workers were now being brought in to fill positions when they had the required visas, Grenfell said.

"I think there will be a requirement for people to come either in from overseas or back from overseas to help fill a skills shortage, and we can certainly see ourselves partnering with some organisations to be able to facilitate that."

People were more willing to move to Christchurch from overseas than from other parts of New Zealand where the perception around the earthquake damage was stronger, Grenfell added.

The new office opening had been supported by Carl Camden, chief executive of Kelly Services, and Dhirendra Shantilal, senior vice-president of Kelly Services Asia Pacific.

Simon Graham, director of Christchurch recruitment agency Graham Consulting, said his firm had also been forced to move from the central business district, having been based in Clarendon Tower. The firm had not been able to access the building and had relied on some back-up tapes to continue working with clients.

The agency had just purchased a villa in St Albans St as a work base, and was confident of Canterbury's employment prospects, starting with the building construction and infrastructure sectors. Clients were positive about 2012 and Graham Consulting was already supplying administration, accounts, customer service and sales support staff.

"We're pretty upbeat about it actually. There's a lot of demand for temporary staff – these are businesses related to the rebuild. A lot of them are taking on additional staff ... we're anticipating a lot of those positions will go permanent in time.

"There is a bit of a candidate shortage. It feels like the market did prior to the recession when there were good opportunities out there."

The Press