Housing squeeze hits rebuild
A lack of accommodation is holding back the rebuild of Christchurch, as the two-year anniversary of the September earthquake nears.
Recruitment of tradesmen is hampered by a lack of places to stay despite a huge amount of work to be done.
Executive and senior management hiring has hit a flat patch and some candidates are changing their minds about taking jobs here because of high rents or few attractive properties to buy.
Recruitment agencies say accommodation is proving a crucial problem.
Market leader Hays* said skill shortages were biting in the trades and labouring areas, particularly in demolition work and residential repairs.
Hays* managing director Jason Walker said geotechnical engineers, civil roading engineers and quantity surveyors who priced everything from a new house to a roading project were in short supply.
"Everywhere else there is a significant amount of turnover in the corporate service, office support, refilling the roles with people leaving the area," Walker said.
There was a need for experienced employees in accounting and administration and IT where businesses in new premises needed communications set up.
"It's incredibly challenging to persuade and convince somebody from other regions of New Zealand to relocate to Christchurch," Walker said.
Of the people Hays* had placed in Christchurch, more than 60 per cent were from overseas.
Finding temporary accommodation for tradespeople who wanted to shift to Christchurch was very difficult.
"They want to go but there's nowhere for them to stay. We could bring in teams of people into these areas if we can find them accommodation."
"People are moving into caravan parks, portacabins, they are trying to board, staying with friends, it's quite limited," Walker said.
Some of the large companies had booked out motels for a couple of years and others were searching for large sections to build portacabin villages. Some companies were flying tradesmen and engineering staff into Christchurch on Monday and out on Friday.
Sheffield South Island's executive director Mike Stenhouse said at the executive level, the recruitment market was flat.
"What we are seeing now is the market is very flat. Everyone is waiting for the recovery."
Some people were "equity trapped" - staying with their companies out of loyalty or concern about the risk of shifting.
Stenhouse said a problem for recruiters like Sheffield was too little appealing housing for those applying for senior positions in Christchurch or rents that were too high.
Some had verbally accepted jobs and changed their minds because they could not find a suitable house to rent or buy.
Overall trading levels had declined for many businesses which were not confident enough yet of employing new staff.
* An early version of this story attributed comments and information to Hudson rather than Hays. We apologise for the error.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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