Labour Market

The labour market in Christchurch was impacted by the earthquakes – in some sectors such as retail, tourism and accommodation there was a decrease in the number of employees, however the construction industry has experienced major gains. In the year to June 2011, total employment decreased by 3.6 percent or 12,300 workers.

During the recovery large numbers of extra construction workers will be required in greater Christchurch. Depending on the pace of recovery, between 20,00 and 30,000 extra construction-related workers could be required at the peak of the rebuild. In addition, other workers outside of the construction industry will be needed. Christchurch also needs engineers, architects and designers, planners and building control professionals and is already recruiting nationally and internationally.

With the influx of temporary workers comes a demand for more accommodation. The private sector can help by, and benefit from, providing temporary accommodation that also has future long-term uses.

Already by working with Immigration NZ, a skills shortage list for Canterbury has been established to reflect the current employment needs for the rebuild. In addition, government has committed to the Skills for Canterbury training package announced to provide up to $42million.

Objectives of the programme

The labour market programme is seeking to:

  • predict the labour market needs for the rebuild including construction needs and the flow on impacts on other sectors; and
  • identify sources of labour, competition and skill levels needed, timing and policy implications.
  • Retain, develop and attract appropriately skilled and experienced people are available for the greater Christchurch rebuild and economic growth.

Key projects

The Canterbury Employment and Skills Board has been set up to address labour market issues. This group is developing a Labour Market Plan is working to align decisions and policies to grow retain and attract the skills Canterbury needs. High values jobs and quality opportunities for Cantabrians are a focus for this group. The programme of work includes the following activities:

Workforce planning and delivery will give citizens access to plentiful and high-worth employment and the training they need for it. Its purpose is to provide greater Christchurch with the workforce it needs for the immediate rebuild and to attract individuals who have the skills to make businesses prosper.

An assessment on the Labour Market called Employment Opportunities in Canterbury brought together a wide range of economic indicators, modelling results and qualitative information to tell the story of the economic impact of the earthquakes on Canterbury. It focused on employment prospects throughout the region and principally on the reconstruction in the short term, but also employment in other industries.

The Skills for Canterbury package has been announced and includes:

  • Up to 3000 more construction-related training places in Polytechnics in Canterbury and around the country (from existing funding)
  • $42 million for additional funded places at polytechs, private providers and Industry Training Organisations (ITO) if required
  • Accelerated training programmes at CPIT and other polytechnics to complete training more quickly and to allow transition to work during training
  • Additional skills brokers at relevant ITOs to work with employers and MSD to place people in training
  • $1.5 million from Work and Income to subsidise 650 people into training and work
  • An extra $5 million in Budget 2011 to purchase further Industry Partnership placements to help unemployed people take up job opportunities from the rebuild
  • Additional support for Maori Trainees, with TPK appointing a dedicated agent to work with ITOs and employers to support at least 200 Maori into the construction sector
  • A special immigration skill shortage list from the Department of Labour to allow employers to import high-skilled workers that can’t be trained in time
  • Considering contractors’ commitment to training and trainees as a factor when assessing future government reconstruction contracts.