New Zealand is hoping to encourage thousands of British construction workers to emigrate as part of a drive to deliver the country's biggest ever infrastructure and housing programme.

According to the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO), New Zealand is suffering from a skills shortage and is in need of 65,000 new workers over the next five years to meet growth and replace people who leave.

The high level of demand for qualified builders and construction workers has led to New Zealand's building sector uniting to target UK construction talent in an unprecedented recruitment push. It hopes the lure of warmer climes and uncertainty around Brexit could attract top British and Irish skilled workers, according to the Daily Telegraph.

A recent downturn in construction activity in the UK is also helping to boost New Zealand's image as an attractive employment environment for those who migrate. While construction firms in the UK have recovered slightly from a slump in September, sentiment in the sector is still low.


A consortia of government organisations, local bodies and private firms are to launch the campaign, called LookSee Build NZ, this week, in a bid to attract more than 56,000 staff, including 2,200 senior roles, to help with the $125 billion programme of infrastructure works over the next decade, reports Planning and Building Control Today, a news site about the construction sector.

It is the first time New Zealand's public and private construction sectors have joined forces for a single cause, and LookSee Build NZ is pulling out all the stops to entice new construction professionals, including offering job packages that include exciting "experiences", such as fishing, surfing and sailing.

Craig West of engineering company Downer, which is part of the LookSee group, said the need for top talent was so severe it required an innovative approach to talent procurement.

He said: "Our construction sector is very competitive and this kind of inter-industry co-operation has never happened before but the need for staff requires us to take an all-of-industry approach.

"We've united to solve a big problem for all of us and we've come to the UK because that is where some of the best global construction talent is."

The recruitment drive follows a crackdown on immigration by New Zealand's Labour Government, which said in April that it would tighten access to its skilled work visas.

Immigration minister Michael Woodhouse said: "These changes are designed to strike the right balance ... and encourage employers to take on more Kiwis and invest in the training to upskill them."

Under the changes, employers would need to provide a minimum income of $49,000 for anyone entering on a prioritised "skilled" visa. Anyone earning more than $73,000 would be classed as highly skilled.


Last year, statistics showed that more than 70,000 people migrated to New Zealand. Following the EU referendum, New Zealand raised fears of a "British invasion" after receiving a rush of interest from would-be migrants, including a tenfold increase on the day of the vote.

The spike was revealed by New Zealand's immigration agency, which said it received 10,647 registrations of interest from potential British migrants in the seven weeks after the referendum, compared with 4,599 during the same period in 2015.