Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Skilled Brits lead way for Christchurch rebuild

The reconstruction of Christchurch has been delayed by land-stability assessments, insurance payouts and aftershocks. Photo / APN
The reconstruction of Christchurch has been delayed by land-stability assessments, insurance payouts and aftershocks. Photo / APN

The Brits are leading the pack to answer the call for skilled workers to help with Christchurch's rebuild.

Immigration New Zealand issued visas to 71 foreign nationals between June 1 and October 31, 40 of those to professionals from Britain - for work associated with the rebuild.

After the Brits are 11 Irish, four Filipinos, three Americans and three Malaysians.

Others granted temporary work visas include people from Germany, Italy, Malta, Pakistan, South Africa and Spain.

From Monday, the agency will be updating its Canterbury skills shortage list, indicating civil, electrical and structural engineers and upholsterers as the occupations urgently needed.

Among those who have obtained visas are 15 quantity surveyors, 13 insurance loss adjusters, nine civil engineers and eight construction project managers.

However, it is unclear if any have arrived because the rebuild is being held up by land assessments, waits for insurance payouts and aftershocks.

The Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild plan was adopted by the Christchurch City Council yesterday. It sets out how the city will fix its earthquake-damaged roads and underground services.

Jan Clark, Immigration NZ's operations support manager, said: "These people qualified for visas on the basis of skills shortages, including those in occupations on the Department of Labour's immediate and long-term skills shortage lists, particularly the specific Canterbury skills shortage list."

Since the February 22 disaster, about 6000 people have left Christchurch, contributing to a shortfall of skilled professionals.

The Department of Labour, which oversees immigration, has also made changes to its long-term and immediate skills shortage list, adding five occupations and removing two.

Secondary school teachers and early childhood pre-primary school teachers are thought to be no longer in short supply, while agricultural scientists, social professionals, life scientists, biotechnologists and environmental research scientists have been added.

"The lists are central to ensuring that New Zealand's skill needs are met by facilitating the entry of appropriately skilled migrants to fill skill shortages and reducing the costs and time delays for employers seeking staff," said Ms Clark.

"Employers can still recruit migrants in occupations that have been removed from the list, but will need to demonstrate genuine attempts to recruit suitable New Zealand citizens or residents."

The agency has also approved a further 220 Silver Fern job search visas, on top of the 293 issued after the scheme's launch last year aimed at bringing highly skilled young people to New Zealand.

Ms Clark said 108 had arrived in the country.

The scheme aims to match young arrivals to the needs of the economy.

Under the policy, those between 20 and 35 have up to nine months to seek skilled employment, and will then be issued a further permit to stay for another two years while they apply for residence.

Of the first 293 Silver Fern visas issued, 23 of the successful applicants have gained residence under the skilled migrant category, 108 have moved to a different work visa and 80 have left the country.

- NZ Herald

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