Quake city looks good for job-starved Brits

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 05:00 22/03/2013

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Rebuilding Christchurch

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Migrant labour sourcing firm New Zealand Skills in Demand says demand for skilled workers to take part in Christchurch's quake-related construction boom is strengthening significantly.

Over the past year the Christchurch-based firm has helped enable "dozens" of migrants, including carpenters from Britain and Ireland, to move to New Zealand.

So far most have relocated to Auckland to work in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, but more were now coming to the Christchurch rebuild.

Shareholders, including managing director Amy Carter, last night launched New Zealand Skills in Demand at a presentation in Burnside. Carter, together with her husband, Nick Carter, holds around 65 per cent of the firm.

Britain-based shareholding partners Borey Chum and Joel Gabites hold 25 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

Skills in Demand was a response to a gap the owners saw five years ago relating to New Zealand's skills shortage, Carter said.

It was expensive for Kiwi-based employers and recruitment firms to travel to the northern hemisphere to seek out specific skills.

"What we do is provide quality shortlists to employers and recruitment companies here, of people against a New Zealand skills shortage list," she said.

"There has been an intent for people to employ Kiwis first [in the rebuild].

"But we're just at the point now where there is no-one left . . . so we're going to have to look overseas."

Gabites, originally from Canterbury, was now permanently based in London, where job seekers were still finding it tough in the economic downturn.

"I would anticipate, given the delay in the rebuild, it's at least another couple of years' work up there to really get things humming," he said.

As a lawyer with a business background he was able to help with the drafting of agreements to help the migrants.

His fellow shareholder, Chum, was based in Guildford, where he was also a director of Migration Associates (UK) Ltd, a firm that specialised in visas for New Zealand.

When migrants got a job offer they would often come to New Zealand on skilled migrant visas, Gabites added.

BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander, who was a speaker at the launch, highlighted the importance of New Zealand companies needing highly skilled employees.

Although New Zealand's unemployment rate was above 6.5 per cent, low training here and outflows of staff to other countries since 2008 had produced skills shortages very early in this economic cycle, Alexander said.

With New Zealand's growth set to accelerate soon to "3 per cent", businesses needed to start planning for staff requirements.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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