The Government's infrastructure employment scheme and
associated training for tradespeople presents opportunities and
threats to Otago, Otago Chamber of Commerce president Peter
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee
announced yesterday a new training and employment programme
to attract workers into trade industries needed for the
rebuilding of greater Christchurch.
Run by the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team,
in partnership with infrastructure training organisation
InfraTrain, the scheme planned to recruit 900 new workers
over the next year to assist with the reconstruction.
Through the programme, training ranging from six to 14 weeks
would be provided for new entrants to industry, or on-the-job
retraining for appropriate applicants.
New entrants who completed the training and met industry
requirements would be guaranteed a job.
Mr McIntyre said the opportunity revolved around Otago
companies being able to provide products and services to the
rebuilding while remaining in the South.
"Looking at our engineering cluster, it is already sending
prefabricated work further north."
As a threat, it could mean that skilled and experienced
tradespeople left the region to seek work in Christchurch, he
"You can't blame them for that but it will create pressure
points for us. Ideally, if you want work done in Dunedin, you
better get it done now."
Asked whether the training programmes announced by Mr
Brownlee were coming a bit late to make much of an impact on
the reconstruction, Mr McIntyre said it was not a five-year
or even a 10-year project. It was possibly much longer, even
The number of apprentices needed to be increased and that
could be a way of attracting more people to live in the
"Rather than repopulating Auckland, I hope people can see
some opportunities further south - in the South Island - and
move here to live," he said.
Mr Brownlee said the size of the infrastructure repair job
should not be underestimated.
To date, the reconstruction team had laid 19km of freshwater
pipe, 70km of wastewater pipe and 5km of stormwater pipe.
About 1020km of road would need to be rebuilt, which was half
of the city's urban sealed roads.
"Yet, the team is only 12% of their way through the rebuild
and repair of horizontal infrastructure. This is a huge job
and we will all benefit by upskilling workers to carry out
the work over the next five years."
Pre-employment training programmes would be delivered by
partners including the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of
Technology, the Canterbury Tertiary College, Tai Poutini
Polytechnic and the Salvation Army.
In a related announcement, Tertiary Education, Skills and
Employment Minister Steven Joyce announced an extra $28
million would be spent to maintain the expanded training for
trades people for the reconstruction.
Nearly $37 million had been committed from the $42 million
Skills for Canterbury fund.
"It is crucial that we have sufficient skilled tradespeople
trained and available to help in the rebuilding of
Christchurch and this funding is an important means of
increasing these numbers," Mr Joyce said.