Bus hits town in bid to lure workers south

A state-funded project recruiting potential infrastructure workers in Blenheim to help with the Christchurch rebuild is "handing out jobs on a plate", a recruitment worker says.

However, the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce expressed concerns that the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (SCIRT) was taking skilled workers out of Marlborough.

The SCIRT recruitment bus rolled into Blenheim yesterday looking to sign up workers to help rebuild the city's earthquake-damaged roads and other infrastructure.

It stopped at the Blenheim Railway Station car park and had registered 15 people before lunch.

SCIRT recruitment worker Duncan O'Keefe said all people needed was a full or restricted driver's licence and to pass a drug test.

The project involved six to 10 weeks of training at a polytechnic, where participants could gain their level-two infrastructure qualification, Mr O'Keefe said.

After completing the course, people walked straight into a job with a contractor in Christchurch.

The bus was on a five-month South Island tour hoping to recruit 900 workers to rebuild 1000 kilometres of roading and 700km of pipe work. That work was expected to be completed by 2016, before building work above ground level could start, Mr O'Keefe said.

"People that come on board now, their job doesn't finish in 2016. It's a lifetime opportunity for anybody willing to put the time in. It's handed to them on a plate. We provide free training, with a living allowance, and you're given a job."

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce general manager Brian Dawson expressed concern that the SCIRT project was taking skilled workers out of the region.

"It's a slick-looking bus that's well fitted out," he said. "Good on them for being pro-active about building their labour force. We need to be more pro-active in our thinking about how we recruit workers. We want locals to stay here and others to base themselves here to service a market that is within four hours' travel.

"There are lots of opportunities to be selling our business services and prefabricated items, like frames or kitchen units, to Christchurch."

The Marlborough Express