Chch cafes rue 'lost generation'

Last updated 05:00 17/12/2012
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John Kirk-Anderson

READY FOR ACTION: Santa is prepared for all terrain in his 1966 Abott tank.

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SITUATIONS VACANT: A shortage of skilled labour in Christchurch may hamper its recovery.

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Christchurch cafe and restaurant owners desperate for staff want hospitality workers added to a list of skills needed to get the city back on its feet.

It has been estimated that between 15,000 and 30,000 workers could be needed in Christchurch to tackle the peak recovery phase, more workers than were in the city before the rebuild started.

Immigration New Zealand holds a Canterbury skills shortage list to target temporary migrant workers. Initially most of the shortages were management positions in construction and engineering, but now plasterers, roof and floor tilers have been added. However, the hospitality sector says it too faces a critical shortage of staff.

More than 543 cafes, restaurants and bars are now open in the city - half the pre-quake number, according to research by University of Canterbury senior marketing lecturer Sussie Morrish. But many restaurants have been reopening in the city in time for the busy summer season.

Cafe Valentino owner Michael Turner said Christchurch lost a generation of hospitality workers after the February 22, 2011 earthquake.

Before the quake, he had 32 staff, but within a fortnight all but five left the city. None had returned.

In the new location he had attracted about 22 staff, but the process had been difficult. One potential worker had wanted to come to Christchurch from Tauranga but had not been able to find accommodation.

Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said it was on her "to do list" to ask Immigration New Zealand about the skills shortage for hospitality in Canterbury. "It would be essential to find extra workers as the big hotels reopened."

Visa services southern regional manager Mike Christie said the list would be reviewed again in February and then quarterly so it could respond to changing needs.

SITUATIONS VACANT

Key skills shortages in Christchurch. - Construction and engineering management - Plasterers - Roof and floor tilers - Drainlayers - Electricians - Glaziers - Carpenters

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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