A tradesman was flown to Australia by his new employer two months ago for a job that is paying $12 an hour more than he earned in New Zealand.

Paul Holmes, a linesman, says he is one of several workmates from the same New Zealand employer to make the same move within a year.

"When I was training with five or six guys, everyone was planning to move once they got qualified," said Mr Holmes

"And eventually, even the guys who trained me made the move."


Mr Holmes said it was best to train in New Zealand because it took only two years to gain a qualification equivalent to four years' training in Australia.

And New Zealand workers were in high demand in Australia with a reputation for working hard.

"It's because the conditions are easier," he said. "I'm better looked after, it's easier to travel, there are better living conditions, and it's better pay."

A report in yesterday's Herald told how the face of the brain drain had changed as increasing numbers of technicians and trade workers migrate to Australia.

Labour's tertiary education, skills and training spokesman, Grant Robertson, said the Government needed to do more to stop the loss of skilled tradespeople across the Tasman.

New Zealand was on its way to a skills crisis, he said.

"[The Government's] lack of investment in apprenticeships, or other skills training programmes, is exposing the gap being left in our economy.

"Along with the absence of acoherent economic plan, it's a fatal combination."

But Employment Minister Steven Joyce said the economy was doing well and creating jobs in all sectors.

Any claim of a jobs crisis was absolutely ludicrous.

The trade drain
* Statistics New Zealand figures show that the number of technicians and trades workers moving across the Tasman has increased over the past 10 years.

* In the year to June, more than 17,600 aged between 20 and 29 moved to Australia - of those people, 14.4 per cent were technicians and trades workers and 11 per cent were professionals.