Office staff in demand for rebuild

PETER TOWNSEND: 'We are going to see this build momentum in a way we've never seen before.'
PETER TOWNSEND: 'We are going to see this build momentum in a way we've never seen before.'

Bankers are now just as sought after as builders in Christchurch as demand for white-collar workers soars.

Canterbury is experiencing significant job growth with a 29 per cent jump in new jobs being advertised in the region last month, compared to April last year, according to figures issued by job website Seek.

The region is bucking the national trend, which saw new jobs drop 4 per cent across New Zealand last month.

White-collar industries accounted for the top four fastest-growing job categories in Canterbury.

The number of banking and financial services jobs advertised in the region last month grew 280 per cent on the same month last year. Marketing and communications was up 189 per cent, legal up 183 per cent and jobs in insurance and superannuation grew 171 per cent.

Construction was the fifth fastest-growing category, after experiencing a 165 per cent boost.

Seek New Zealand general manager Janet Faulding said while blue-collar industries remained hot spots of employment opportunity in Canterbury, other sectors were catching up.

"Job opportunities for skilled white-collar professionals are now on the up too as the city progresses from demolition mode to reconstruction."

There were 2400 jobs available in Canterbury on Seek yesterday, almost double the pre-earthquake number, Seek trade marketing and public relations manager Sarah Wesley said.

She believed the city would need to attract people from outside the region to fill the jobs.

"If you are young and fairly ambitious and want to further your career, you might want to go to Canterbury."

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said job growth in the region was only just beginning.

"We're just out of the blocks. We are going to see this build momentum in a way we've never seen before."

He believed people were underestimating just how big the demand for white-collar jobs was going to be.

"If you're going to build a building, you need bankers, you need accountants and lawyers."

Townsend said young people often told him they were going to leave the city because there was nothing for them to do. He told them if they wanted to start a career, Christchurch was the place to do it.

"The job opportunities right across every sector are going to be big."

Townsend said people often asked him what was going to happen with all the extra workers once the rebuild had finished.

"I tell people to `ask me that in 10 years'."

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the figures showed "a real resurgence of growth" in the region after the city's earthquakes.

"If we look out another 12 to 24 months, it's hard to imagine there will be anyone without a job in Christchurch who is keen to get involved in employment."

While construction work would provide the "engine" of the city's economic recovery, Parker said many other industries would benefit as a result.

"It's not just about chippies and sparkies and plumbers: it's about broad growth that will go through our entire economy."

The main task for officials would be ensuring that the post-quake boom did not fade away as the recovery progressed, he said.

"The issue is not how many jobs there are, because we have a tremendous amount of jobs, but we have to look further out and try to sustain this growth and prosperity into the future."

The Press