Group formed to focus on expected skilled labour shortage

The workforce seminar was held at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The workforce seminar was held at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Major industry players, government organisations and others have come together to deal with an expected serious shortfall in skilled labour needed for the new Dunedin Hospital build.

Southern Partnership Group convener Pete Hodgson yesterday led a workforce seminar to consider the issue.

He ended up with a co-ordinating group of representatives from the likes of construction companies Calder Stewart and Hawkins to Ngai Tahu, the Department of Corrections and local government.

Southern Partnership Group convener Pete Hodgson. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Southern Partnership Group convener Pete Hodgson. Photo: Gerard O'Brien

The group will co-ordinate worker training for the hospital build, amid concerns expressed by some in the industry about taking on apprentices before contracts are awarded.

Mr Hodgson told the meeting at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery the Christchurch Hospital build was going slowly, the delay  because of a lack of workers.

Health Minister David Clark said there were not enough workers available in  Otago and Southland  to fulfil the demand caused by the hospital and other planned projects.

After presentations and discussion, about 15 people put their hands up to join the co-ordinating group, which pleased Mr Hodgson.

"We’ve got so many people keen to address this problem of finding enough workers to build our hospital from within."

He said the committee needed to meet regularly, and employ a co-ordinator, so everyone knew what each other was up to and to maximise opportunities. He indicated he would approach government departments to raise about $100,000 to run the group and employ a co-ordinator, if one was needed.

Mr Hodgson said there were concerns from the construction industry about taking on trainees before tenders were agreed.

"The answer is because they will be needed, because if you’ve got them you’ve got a better chance of landing a contract, because the Government’s going to be saying ‘we want to know what your capability is’."

If companies did not get the hospital work, they had the rest of the economy to service in what would be a busy time for construction.He said companies also wanted to know more about the Government’s construction skills strategy.

A Cabinet report on the strategy, which  was expected to be  finalised next month, said there was a national shortfall of about 30,000 workers across construction-related industries.

On top of that there was an expected growth in employment demand between 2016 and 2022  of between 12% and 15% for plumbers, electricians, project builders,  civil engineers and project managers.

Mr Hodgson also challenged the assembled industry figures to prove him wrong in his contention the main contractor of the hospital build would be an offshore construction company.

"Please prove me wrong."

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

Comments

Just what Dunedin needs. Another self serving committee which will have lots of meetings, spend lots of other peoples money and produce very little at the end of it all.