Construction job pressure builds

By Ellen Irvine

1 comment

Workers in construction-related industries are in hot demand due to a revitalised local building market and the Christchurch rebuild.

But most employers are still cautious about taking on new staff, despite an increase in business optimism.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Max Mason said new building activity and infrastructure projects in the Western Bay, combined with the impact of Christchurch, was increasing demand for workers in related industries.

"There's been a real lift in the number of building consents, which is encouraging. There's demand around infrastructure and for all related building trades."

Tauranga-based consultants are working remotely on the Christchurch rebuild, increasing demand locally in resource management, civil, roading and infrastructure engineering, planning, and architectural surveyors.

Workers in demand are for technical, specialist-based positions - creating a huge gap between skilled and unskilled or semi-skilled workers.

Jobs are also available for workers in the autotrade, manufacturing and mechanical engineering sectors, as well as IT development, support and design, sales and marketing.

"[Workers in demand] are either people with a lot of experience, or with technical qualifications - that's a glaring factor in the jobs market."

Mr Mason urged people struggling to get a job to upskill.

The 1st Call Recruitment managing director, Phill van Syp, said it was becoming "harder by the day" to find workers to fill jobs such as civil construction. "Christchurch has drained a lot of resources."

Sales people were also being "snapped up really fast".

As the economic outlook is more positive for 2013, Mr van Syp sees that as a growing trend.

"There's going to be a lot more employment. I see it becoming harder and harder for employers to find those good people. Employers don't want to lose staff."

Priority One chief executive Andrew Coker described employer confidence as mixed. "Some are seeing a re-energised economy in their businesses. Other sectors are finding it quite patchy, with ups and downs."

He highlighted construction and health as high-performing sectors.

Building company owner Ron Butcher advertised for a builder's position but was surprised with the "limited response". He expected "a lot more" as the industry appeared to be looking up. "It could be that a lot of people are busy and haven't had time [to apply] or they've found other employment," he said.

Ian Chitty, managing director of Tauranga's Personnel Resources/ Temp Resources, said employers were slightly more confident in the economy than a year ago.

"The expectation for 2013 is for a solid growth in the employment market rather than a dramatic change." He expects more permanent recruitment, compared with last year when roles were project-based.

Export logging is another key growth area - an increased export of logs to Canada could spark a need for more workers in related industries such as stevedoring and shipping.

IT, accounting and manual labour workers are also in demand.

Claudia Nelson, owner/operator of Tauranga-based recruitment agency The Right Staff, said employers were "cautiously optimistic".

Employers were watching their overhead costs carefully and not jumping into hiring. "It's still reasonably tough."

Unskilled, semi-skilled roles ease

A big gap exists between skilled and unskilled workers, who find it hardest to get a job in Tauranga.

Tough times continue for people seeking work in retail or administration, due to a shortage of semi-skilled roles.

The large number of owner-operated small businesses in the Western Bay means owners are culling administration jobs and instead working extra hours themselves.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Max Mason said small business owners cut admin roles first when times were tough.

"The business owner starts emptying bins, answering phones and doing the books.

"They work harder and longer."

Retail workers are struggling to find jobs, except for specialist retail positions, which are hard to fill.

Ian Chitty, managing director of Tauranga's Personnel Resources/ Temp Resources, said clerical roles such as general administration or customer service were highly contested.

Online sales are having a negative impact on the retail sector, and hospitality is also slow, as the peak summer period ends.

In high demand

  • IT

  • Logging industry - stevedoring and shipping

  • General manufacturing - carpentry, cabinet-making, production engineers

  • Auto trades: mechanics, auto electricians

  • Medical specialists

  • Accounting

Which industries are hard to find work in?

  • Retail

  • Administration

  • Hospitality

  • Unskilled and semi-skilled work

- Bay of Plenty Times

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