Uphill battle to find skilled trade workers

19:29, Jul 01 2014
dion clarkson
STAFF NEEDED: Malcolm Officer Sheetmetal managing director Dion Clarkson, left, and foreman Chris Rawlinson are kept busy with work at the light engineering company that needs more skilled workers.

City firms are scrambling to find skilled workers as engineering and fabrication services boom.

The sector is hot after a sluggish five years that was weighed down by the global financial crisis. According to Trade Me, job listings in Southland are growing faster than in any other region.

A year-on-year comparison for the first quarter this year, compared to last year, showslistings are up by 41.3 per cent. The jobs are in trades and services (up 40.4 per cent) and manufacturing and operations (up 35.8 per cent).

Competenz trades manager Noel Clayton said the industry training organisation had a surge in requests for skilled apprentices in the region.

About eight apprentices had been placed in new jobs in the past three months, and more Southland firms had places to fill but faced the challenge of a skills shortage.

"Some businesses are also shy of employing people as the gloom of 2013 is not far from their mind."

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Malcolm Officer Sheet Metal managing director Dion Clarkson recruited an apprentice but is still searching for skilled tradesmen.

The light engineering company has had an upsurge in business this year, and has worked on the expansion of the Open Country Dairy plant at Awarua. He advertised for workers but none of the applicants had the skills required.

Clarkson, who bought the company this year, planned to expand the business as work in the food processing industry increased.

"It's a great sign that most engineering businesses are busy but it's difficult to find the skilled workers who can start a job straight away without training."

Southland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sarah Hannan said the skills shortage is an ongoing concern in Southland.

"We are also seeing this in other areas such as transport, where business is having to go [overseas] and actively recruit staff to fill positions."

EIS chief executive Dean Addie said his business could not find engineers or electricians in the region and has had to recruit overseas.

The Southland Times