Dunedin businesses are attracting skilled workers from
Christchurch to fill vacancies. Photo by Geoff Sloan.
Dunedin businesses are reversing a four-year trend by
hiring skilled trades staff from Christchurch, Otago Chamber of
Commerce chief executive John Christie said yesterday.
It had got to the stage where some firms throughout Otago had
stopped advertising vacancies because they did not have
people putting their hands up for the position.
The skilled labour shortage had become acute for some, he
The technology sector was hiring people with degrees or part
degrees to fill shortages.
But a trend had emerged of people relocating from
Christchurch to fill vacancies, Mr Christie said.
''The electrical and plumbing industries are looking for key
staff and are recruiting out of Christchurch to get good
people relocated down here. In some cases, they are
''We know the Dunedin City Council cannot get enough resource
consent staff. This bodes well for people looking for work
but you don't always find a ready fit for a job when you are
looking for work.''
There was a growing sense of frustration with the pace of the
earthquake rebuilding work in Christchurch, he said.
The chamber had surveyed members who said the ''gloss'' had
gone off the work. Some people were prepared to go and work
in the damaged city during the week but were happy to come
home to Dunedin when they could.
Otago companies faced the challenges of housing staff, paying
them extra in relocation costs and had decided to bring
people back to Dunedin and Otago as some larger construction
projects started, Mr Christie said.
''Looking at the long term, construction firms in Otago and
Southland are not interested in expanding and relocating to
Christchurch. There is enough work here and firms are now
looking to hire.''
There was also anecdotal evidence the chamber was chasing
which showed Christchurch people, with their insurance paid
out, were moving south for work and a change, he said.
The population mix of Christchurch had changed significantly
since the earthquakes four years ago, as trades people from
around the world moved to the city for work. People with
options were deciding to leave, Mr Christie said.
The ANZ Business Microscope, published yesterday, showed
small business confidence had reached record highs in
Canterbury, the wider South Island and Wellington.
Hiring intentions among small businesses nudged upwards to a
record high, auguring well for employment as the economy
continued to expand, ANZ retail and business banking managing
director Fred Ohlsson said.
Many business owners had now turned their attention to
finding staff with the right skills to take their business
forward, citing a skill shortage as the biggest challenge for
''Small firms have made a clear statement they're still
prepared to take on staff and invest amid challenges such as
a high dollar. This optimism is encouraging and is testament
to the wide array of forces now supporting the economy.''
Small firms accounted for 90% of New Zealand businesses and
provided jobs for nearly one in three New Zealanders.
Mr Christie said if each small business in Otago and
Southland felt secure enough in their future to take on one
extra staff member, unemployment would cease to exist in the
''That has huge implications for our youth unemployment,'' he
• Confidence among small businesses has remained at very high
• Hiring intentions are at strongest since comparable data
first collected in 1999; net 20% planning to take on
• Canterbury confidence was up 9% to 33%, the rest of the
South Island was up 2% to 33% and Wellington was up 1% to
• Dunedin businesses hiring out of Christchurch.