Rebuild boom goes beyond construction

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 07:19 15/04/2012

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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As the rebuild of Christchurch gathers pace, the job market in Canterbury is booming, and it's not only builders, brickies, plumbers, electricians, painters and decorators who are in high demand, reports Lois Cairns.

Scour the job advertisements and you will see signs of a Christchurch recovery at every turn.

There is job ad after job ad for labourers, carpenters, painters, decorators and welders, many offering an immediate start and above-average pay rates.

The boom in construction industry jobs is no surprise, given the damage, but others are also benefiting from Christchurch's misfortune.

One group of professionals likely to benefit long-term from Christchurch's rebuild is accountants, says Trade Me jobs head Pete Ashby. The demand for different roles will vary given that the rebuild is expected to take up to 20 years, but accountants will remain in constant demand.

"As the economy heads in a positive direction, the need for numerate, financially savvy people will increase as businesses grow and look to cope with the rising workload.

"We've seen listings from Christchurch employers and recruiters hunting these number crunchers leap 60 per cent compared with a year ago."

Leanne Crozier, who runs Decipher Group, an executive recruitment company in Christchurch, says business has never been so brisk. Across the city, companies are crying out for financial controllers, senior managers and other executive level staff.

"It's been very busy - at least double what we were seeing this time last year," Crozier says.

The demand is the result of the post-earthquake rebuild coinciding with the end of the global financial crisis and the renewed business confidence that has brought about.

"New business districts, new IT hubs, new infrastructure, cutting- edge technology - it's an exciting time for business and career- focused executives and that's reflected in the increase in the number of executive roles for which we are recruiting compared with a year ago," Crozier says.

The number of executive-level vacancies the company is recruiting for is more than double the figure of a year ago, the candidates are high-quality, and there are more of them.

"A vast number of expatriates have been wanting to come back to Christchurch and help out, so we're seeing a massive increase in very highly skilled, talented ex- Cantabrians and New Zealanders wanting to come to Christchurch," Crozier says.

"Probably in our lifetime we're never going to have an opportunity to be involved in something so big and so positive, so it's a huge career opportunity for a lot of people and a chance to give something back."

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Figures released last week by Trade Me confirmed the explosive growth in the Canterbury job market, with advertised roles up 81 per cent compared with a year ago.

Listings for construction and architecture roles were up 65 per cent on a year ago, while listings for trades and services roles were up 47 per cent.

Clive Murden, sales and marketing manager for Coverstaff, a recruitment company which specialises in the construction, engineering, logistics and transport industries, says the rebuild has yet to impact on some segments, but in the construction and engineering industries workers are in high demand.

There are also signs of job growth in manufacturing, he says.

In the high-demand sectors, companies are having to pay more to attract new workers.

"We're certainly seeing some movement in pay rates, but the movements so far have been controlled - there's been no horrendous spiking that we're aware of," Murden says.

Although the company is constantly fielding inquiries from out- of-towners, relocating could be difficult, given the housing situation.

"One of the biggest issues we've got in Christchurch at the moment is housing," Murden says.

The rental property market in Christchurch is at breaking point, with tenants facing soaring demand, rising rents and plummeting supply.

Some people are living in garages, and others have moved into damaged red-zoned homes because they have no choice.

- Sunday Star Times

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