Oamaru misses out on 50 new jobs

Oamaru has lost out on 50 new jobs which could have potentially reduced the number of people on the dole in the town by 18%.

Pulse Business Solutions, which is owned by Tauranga-based Key Research Group and employs 80 people in its Oamaru call centre, last week announced plans to recruit 50 new staff members over the next year for a second call centre in Tauranga.

Although Ministry of Social Development figures for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 show that 282 people were receiving the unemployment benefit and actively seeking full-time work in Oamaru, Key Research Group managing director Michael Hooker said Tauranga was chosen because it was clear the new positions could not be filled by Oamaru residents.

"We explored expanding the call centre operation in Oamaru and essentially we are constrained to grow the business to the level we want by the labour force which is available in the town.

"The volume of people that we could attract was quite a constraining factor when we are looking to double the size of our call-centre operations. It was apparent that we would struggle to get the numbers that we wanted.

"We have our Key Research headquarters at Mount Maunganui so it made sense for us to expand the call centre business in Tauranga."

Mr Hooker said the Oamaru and Tauranga call centres would work together, which would allow consistency of projects, and it would be "business as usual" as far as the Oamaru operation was concerned.

Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton said he was "disappointed but not surprised" with the company's decision to expand into the North Island rather than Oamaru.

"We would have liked to have seen them expand here and they are always welcome of course, but we are very happy with the base they have established here. Tauranga is actually their home base, but they know they are very welcome here."

However, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said the company did not think hard enough about increasing its Oamaru staff numbers.

"There are plenty of people, not only in Oamaru but also in the surrounding small townships, who would welcome the opportunity to work for Pulse Business Solutions.

"I'm very disappointed that they perhaps didn't look a little further."

andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz