9 Oct 2017

Construction industry aims for 20,000 foreign workers

12:51 pm on 9 October 2017

A new campaign to attract foreign workers starts today with the aim of bringing in up to 20,000 people to help solve the construction industry's labour shortage.

Companies were at capacity and struggled to find people in New Zealand, said Hamish Price who works on the website LookSee Build New Zealand.

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Photo: 123RF

"They want to move beyond robbing Peter to pay Paul and poaching people locally."

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment projected demand for construction-related occupations would increase by 11 percent between 2016 and 2022. That translated to 56,000 more employees nationally, half of whom would need to service Auckland.

Mr Price said the site hoped to meet some of the demand by recruiting "facade engineers, civil engineers, project managers, project directors, quantity surveyors - skilled talent".

Building Industry Federation chief executive Bruce Kohn said current shortages meant blow-out costs on projects and in some cases contractors were not able to take jobs because they could not guarantee they would have people to see the project through.

"There are real pressures both in terms of procurers who seek to nail down the costs of the job at an early time," Mr Kohn said.

"I think everybody is working literally as hard as they can to get the supply of housing in Auckland up to levels that it needs to get to but there is simply a limited number of skilled workers."

Mr Price said about 20 companies had already signed up with varying demands. Some wanted a handful of workers and others hundreds to ensure their long-term sustainability.

The site would target people in the UK, Ireland, the United States and the United Arab Emirates and would connect people with local employers as well as showcase New Zealand as a place to live, Mr Price said.

He expected potential employees to come to New Zealand by next month and continue in the New Year.