Select Recruitment managing director Karen Bardwell.
Christchurch's housing shortage, expensive rent and
mediocre wages are deterring Otago people from heading north to
Christchurch employers and recruitment agencies are calling
for the Government to allow more overseas workers into the
country to fill the swelling vacancies, from trades and
professions through to unskilled staff, as the shortages take
The estimated more than $20 billion Christchurch rebuild has
been slower than expected in gaining impetus, largely because
of wrangles over insurance assessments and payments.
Managing director Karen Bardwell, of Dunedin-based Select
Recruitment, which has a Christchurch office and has
successfully recruited from Ireland in recent months, says
the lack of people deciding to head north has come ''as a bit
of a surprise''.
''Everyone, and then we saw it ourselves, initially thought
[Christchurch] employers would be paying a premium, but
that's turned out not to be the case,'' Ms Bardwell said.
She said many ''temp'' workers on her books had advised her
they had considered moving to Christchurch, but following
their own scrutiny of the Christchurch market, they found
wages were on a par with Otago, finding housing ''was a big
issue'' and rental charges were ''at a premium''.
''The grass isn't always greener. There doesn't seem to be a
mass exodus from Dunedin,'' she said.
Some of Christchurch's biggest employers have called for more
unskilled immigrants to be allowed into the country to fill
the vacancies. While the city calls for tradesmen, engineers
and management level workers as the rebuild gets into full
swing, some businesses say there is a similar need for those
willing to do low-paid, unskilled work, TV One has reported.
Adecco Personnel area manager southern [all South Island],
Teresa Moore, formerly of Dunedin, said there were more
applicants from north of Christchurch than south.
Having worked in Dunedin for about 15 years, she said staff
here were more loyal and tended ''not to jump to a new job on
She noted many instances where Dunedin employers had offered
staff positions in their Christchurch outlets.
Ms Bardwell said many technically skilled people from Otago
had taken Christchurch positions, but they were in a pay band
which allowed them to fly home to Dunedin most weekends.
She agreed with the call to allow more immigrants into New
Zealand, having twice visited Ireland to recruit and during
the past four months having placed seven of eight immigrants
into Christchurch jobs.
At present, travellers under 30 years old from many countries
can work for up to 12 months, but Ms Bardwell said that
option should be opened up to older age groups.
Ms Moore agreed, saying the ''biggest change'' ahead for the
industry was the Government decision on changing requirements
for working visas.
Ms Bardwell said New Zealand industry was competing for
immigrants, especially in the case of trades, with
Australia's relatively healthy economy.
Trish Paterson, recruitment manager for Christchurch-based
employment agency Ryan Recruitment, said many companies were
struggling to fill positions that required no qualifications,
or skills that could be learned on the job.
''It's not so much that [jobs] are not available, but in a
lot of cases they are paying minimum wage. There are other
employers paying more; even if it is only 50c per hour,
people will move jobs for that,''she told TV One.
The company was even struggling to find people manage traffic
at road works and employers needed to adjust their
expectations, she said.
''The old attitude `if they want the job they have to fit in
with us' was now unrealistic,'' she said.