Mobilising labour for the Canterbury rebuild presents the
greatest labour-market challenge in a generation, the
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says.
''It will create an unprecedented demand for construction
workers and those in supporting industries.''
In the latest quarterly labour market report, the ministry
said the Canterbury rebuild would require many thousands of
additional construction workers at its peak.
The most in-demand construction-related occupations were
carpenters and joiners, paint trade workers, plasterers and
The rebuild was likely to to be done over many years. Such
factors as continued aftershocks had reduced the prospects of
a faster rebuild.
The largest component of the construction effort related to
rebuilding and repairing the many thousands of residential
properties, the ministry said. The extensively damaged
central business district might also take many years to
''In contrast, land remediation and infrastructure repair are
well under way. Both will require fewer, more specialised
While construction workers dominated the required labour
pool, a wider pool of talent was required, including support
staff and services workers.
The economic stimulus that would follow the arrival of new
workers would, in turn, drive employment growth in other
sectors such as hospitality and retail.
The local population could supply labour directly for the
rebuild or indirectly by supplying supporting services. Other
industries could also supply labour, the ministry said.
As labour from other industries was drawn towards rebuild
activities, the ministry expected some small generalised
increase in wages within the region as other sectors sought
to retain labour.
That was the experience of the mid-2000s construction boom
when construction workers were sourced from the manufacturing
Construction-sector wage growth in Canterbury continued to be
stronger than in the rest of New Zealand.
The ministry expected migration from within New Zealand to be
a key source of labour for the rebuild, but external
migration would also play a part.
The ministry monitored short-term visitor arrivals, and the
visa programme, to understand the impact of migration from
outside the country.
ASB economist Jane Turner said the Canterbury rebuild
remained a key drawcard for permanent and long-term arrivals,
with arrivals in Canterbury up 49% on a year ago.
More recently, the slowdown in the Australian economy had
resulted in a strong rise in New Zealanders returning home.
As a result, arrivals in Auckland had risen in recent months.
Migration figures released yesterday by Statistics New
Zealand showed seasonally adjusted net migration of 1980 for
July and 10,570 for the 12 months to July.
Ms Turner said departures had steadily fallen, particularly
to Australia. With the mining investment boom starting to
slow, labour demand there had eased and unemployment was
In contrast, the outlook for New Zealand's labour market was
for gradual improvement.