Christchurch people move south for work

Dunedin businesses are attracting skilled workers from Christchurch to fill vacancies. Photo by...
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 said.

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 successful.

''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 their firms.

''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 region.

''That has huge implications for our youth unemployment,'' he said.

Business microscope
• Confidence among small businesses has remained at very high levels.
• Hiring intentions are at strongest since comparable data first collected in 1999; net 20% planning to take on staff.
• Canterbury confidence was up 9% to 33%, the rest of the South Island was up 2% to 33% and Wellington was up 1% to 30%.
• Dunedin businesses hiring out of Christchurch.


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