Planning needed to train workers

Naylor Love apprentice builder James ``Mouse'' Riach, of Dunedin, hammers in a peg on a building site in North Dunedin. Photo: Shawn McAvinue
Naylor Love apprentice builder James ``Mouse'' Riach, of Dunedin, hammers in a peg on a building site in North Dunedin. Photo: Shawn McAvinue
Training workers and jobseekers to meet the challenges of the Dunedin Hospital rebuild, centre city development and regional projects will require careful planning, experts say.

The latest Infometrics quarterly economic monitor report puts the unemployment rate in Dunedin in March at 6.1% — higher than the national average of 4.3%, but down from 7.1% in March 2018.

According to the report, the number of jobseeker support benefit recipients in Dunedin had decreased by 0.5% to 3370 people.

Ministry of Social Development Regional Labour Market manager Emma Hamilton said preparing for the forecast construction boom was the subject of in-depth research and planning across the region.

This included mapping planned construction projects across Otago and Queenstown-Lakesfor the next 15 years and modelling the workforce this would require.

Ministry of Social Development Regional Labour Market manager Emma Hamilton. Photo: Brenda Harwood
Ministry of Social Development Regional Labour Market manager Emma Hamilton. Photo: Brenda Harwood

‘‘This is a big piece of work, which will give more information for jobseekers and training providers around the skills that will be needed,’’ Ms Hamilton said.

‘‘There will be some good opportunities for young people here.’’

Employers were also looking to recruit across a broad range of roles, including administrators, call centre staff, caregivers, drivers, hospitality/tourism and manufacturing, she said.

Jobseekers aged from 18 to 24 still faced the most difficulty in finding work, due to their lack of skills and proven work experience.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said two high-level groups had been established to plan for future workforce needs in the region —the Workforce Development Advisory Group and the Otago Workforce Planning Group, which has been awarded $250,000 from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund.

‘‘We are trying to understand the demographics of the people who are out there, but also trying to ascertain the capacity to be able to supply the labour force of the future,’’ Mr McGowan said.

‘‘Young people today get a chance to choose a lifelong career that could be here in Dunedin, across a variety of different pathways.’’

Mr McGowan said it was a challenging time for contractors and businesses, who were aware there would be future work coming, but with no guarantee they would secure the contracts.

He believed the situation could give rise to more partnerships within organisations.

As the expected construction boom moved closer, it would hopefully provide enough certainty for businesses to take on trainees.

BRENDA.HARWOOD@thestar.co.nz 

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