Influx of Irish, British workers

ASHLEIGH STEWART AND CAROLINE KING
Last updated 05:00 01/12/2012

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Up to 600 Irish and British workers are expected to flock to Christchurch over the next six months, an overseas recruitment expert says.

Three hundred workers are needed immediately in Christchurch, with hundreds more expected to arrive from Europe by mid-next year, Scott Mathieson, the director of Auckland-based migration services business Working In, told The Press.

The company held career expos in mid-November in Dublin, Manchester and London, which would bring in "a significant amount of people to Christchurch".

"For the Irish, where the unemployment rate is 14.8 per cent, the idea that they can get employment down here is really good," Mathieson said.

Hundreds of Irish and British people have already arrived for the rebuild. Immigration New Zealand figures from September showed Britain, the Philippines and Ireland head the list of countries providing labour in the city.

Britain was well ahead with 214 visas, followed by the Philippines with 80 and Ireland on 69.

Christchurch's Irish Society has seen its membership more than double since the quake, suggesting even more Irish people have already arrived for the rebuild.

Working In is holding another round of expos in Ireland and the United Kingdom in March.

"It's really started to heat up, there's quite a lot of pressure," Mathieson said.

"I would be expecting, from that last round of expos, to get 500 to 600 more workers in the next six months."

He said suitable New Zealand workers had become too hard to find.

"Obviously, it's about Kiwis first - but even talking to the clients, they're saying: ‘We can't get New Zealanders to do this'. We can't even find people with low-level skills."

Advanced Personnel national operations manager Ryan Densem said the recruitment firm was unable to find skilled tradespeople quickly enough.

"We can't find enough skilled Irish people willing to come across. We can't find enough tradespeople, predominantly carpenters and people within the civil and construction industries, full stop. We've got so many unfilled jobs in these trades, it doesn't make a difference where we get them from as long as their skills line up with New Zealand's standards."

He said the Irish were in demand as their skills and training were comparable with New Zealand's.

Advanced Personnel already has a recruitment co-ordinator in Ireland, he said. So far, about 20 of its recruits had come over.

Managing director Matt Jones of recruitment firm Canstaff said they were looking for workers "from tradesmen upwards", and the company had shifted their focus to find them.

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"I've been to Ireland and Scotland six times in the last 18 months. I now have offices in Dublin and Northern Ireland, so that's where our focus is."

Christchurch Irish Society president Natasha Taylor said they had noticed a large increase in numbers after the earthquakes.

"Our community has at least doubled. We probably had about 200 or 300 now we have at least 600 here."

ASB bank figures suggest economic activity in Christchurch is now above pre-quake levels, led by construction.

- The Press

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