Labour leader Goff steps up call for govt to act on skills shortage to deal with Canty rebuild, Auckland housing shortage and leaky homes repairs

Labour leader Goff steps up call for govt to act on skills shortage to deal with Canty rebuild, Auckland housing shortage and leaky homes repairs

Opposition leader Phil Goff has increased his calls for the government to take immediate action to ensure there is a big enough skilled trade workforce in New Zealand to deal with the Canterbury rebuild, an Auckland housing shortage and repairs to leaky homes.

Although Goff said yesterday he expected a nationwide trades skills shortage in six months' time, in a media release this morning that timing was pushed out to 12-18 months. However the message was the same - that the looming shortage would "cripple the rebuild effort, cause significant delays and push up the cost of construction".

The Labour Party leader has also this year spoken about his fears of an Auckland housing crisis due to low levels of building consents and migration of skilled New Zealand workers to Australia. See more in this February 15 article.

Goff today called for the government to increase its cap on building trades students at institutions like the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology. Government should also promote accelerated, intensive courses in building and construction trade training, including apprenticeships.

“CPIT has the capacity to take on more students and increase trade training. We want to target school leavers, those who are unemployed and those who may be made redundant in the coming months – to give them an opportunity to forge a new career that will benefit them and the economy," Goff said in a media release on Wednesday morning.

“Immediate action is needed to meet the rapid growth in the Canterbury region when the rebuild gets underway. If this does not happen, there will be an avoidable crisis and delays in meeting housing needs along with higher costs which is the last thing people in Christchurch need as they recover from the earthquake,” Goff said.

"Industry leaders tell me that the pool of skilled labour has been shrinking throughout the country. The industry has been downsizing with layoffs increasing over the last couple of months. Even before the latest quake, it was estimated there would be a shortfall of a thousand building tradespeople by 2013. That demand will be even stronger now," he said.

Boosting the number of skilled workers was necessary not only for Canterbury but also to meet the growing housing shortage crisis in Auckland, the expected increased demand to repair leaky buildings and the loss of many qualified tradespeople lured to Australia by higher pay packets.

“This is a critical issue. It cannot be ignored. The Government must act now to build an army of workers with the right mix of skills to rebuild the devastated Canterbury region, including the tens of thousands of homes, schools and businesses that have been destroyed or damaged," Goff said.

“If action is not taken, we will face a skills shortage in 12-18 months’ time that will cripple the rebuild effort, cause significant delays and push up the cost of construction. The industry also must be given the confidence and certainty it needs to take on trainees and workers,” he said.

The Government should provide the building industry with clear projections about the scale of construction work that would be needed and the skills required.

“The Government must also ensure that Canterbury businesses get the first bite of any construction work that is going, as long as their bids are competitive. At present, the industry is retrenching and local companies are continuing to face liquidity problems because of the recession and delays in reconstruction after the September 4 earthquake," Goff said.

“It’s important that rebuilding starts as quickly as possible to keep them and the local economy afloat,” he said.

“Funds must also flow quickly from insurers and the Earthquake Commission to businesses that are undertaking the work. We don’t want businesses that are already under financial pressure to fail simply because they’re not being paid on time."

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Mr Goof. 

If you read the latest stat from Australia  this week, there is a drop in the number building permits issued across Australia main centres.  Our tradies probably won't rush across the ditch in a hurry!  Beside, they probably want more brick layers.  Do we need more brick layers here ??????


With the estimated bill for the CHCH earthquake expected to about $15Billion, it will take a least 10 years for CHCH to look like its oldself

We simply do not have capacity with the construction industry to turn over that kind of money. Roughly speaking the turner over per month during the rebuild process will need to be in the order of $125million per month.

So its all very well to say we can re bulding it, but nobody seems to be addressing the fact that we will struggle to do so

You are exactly right damage, sure we can do it but you can't over a 8-10 year time frame..the city will well and truly be vacant by then.  Resource Has to be brought in from overseas, and Fletchers can not be the only one contracted to do the job. Go overseas, get some Temp passports /visa organised and bring in outside help.

In my own experience.  We had a large area in our kitchen dining area for tiling. Got 3 quotes from our local tilers.  Gave the job to one of them - didn't show up.  Then gave the job to the second guy, said he was going on holiday.  So I rang another tiler from local newspaper.  Two guys turned up on time (they are from SE Asia and now living permananetly in NZ).  They did a beautiful job, couldn't fault the workmanship.  And the cost was 40% less than the other two, with a invoice!

Moral of the story is; sometime we are just not up the the scratch and will need overseas resources!

I'd say 'Moral of the story is' : Wages are going to fall 40% ?...I mean, who are you going to use for the next job? Or who are you going to recommend to your mates? The first two guys, or the ones that did the great job for 40% less?

I had no issue using the first tiler and made that point at the begining...  As a consumer, of course I'd recomend these guys to other people..It's my reputation and am not that stupid!  It's a competitive world - money isn't grow on trees (from cows may be ..)

The point is if we want to rebuild CHCH, we should up our game and that "she'll right right" attitude won't cut it anymore.

some asian lads are good, alot are really rough and need minding. but i agree, for the wet trades we need to lighten up visas for thais & filipinos, good tilers, stoppers, painters etc. but a thai sparkie or plumber? dont think so

i think some underestimate capacity? talkin to guys in dunedin...everyone seems real slow at the mo? q'town same (nelson?) but we've seen it all before. alot of guys are talkin chch. as a tiler work for me is prob 18mths away, but there will be shitloads of it! think...10,000 bathrooms! it aint worth 200 lives, but theres gotta be some positives?

Good one Fill Gap. Train up a surplus of building tradesmen, when all the reconstruction is done & work slows up you'll be complaining the govft isnt making enough jobs again.

Typical of NZ politican short sightedness.

Interesting to hear Fletcher rep on RNZNat this am. He used 10years at 2bn pa as an estimate of what Chch faces in rebuild. Not a short or even midterm boost.

If an average house cost $300,000 to rebuild, and there are 10,000 homes that need rebuilding, that totals $3 billion. If they are built in bulk, you can also get economies of scale. SO not sure where they get their figures from. They could import workers and train them onsite. The frames are all factory made anyways these days and can be built by robot on mass.


Part of the problem is tha trades people have been charging a lot, due to there not being too many around, and many going overseas where they can earn more. You can earn more with a trade these days, than with a universtity education.


Just hope they aren't going to build in brick and tile.

Of course John, they don't care if people have to wait that long to get there house fixed, as long as they get all the work and profits from it.  Would you wait that long to get your house fixed? Would someone  in AKl or Wellington be upset to be told..sorry been a Earthquake in CHC so cant get to you until 2021..I think not. The RULES will have to be changed.

You miss the point, we simply dont have the people to construct it faster than that. Plus who would want to actually live in CHCH for a start with no accomodation available and the risk of another EQ

But yes, the construction companies around the country must be rubbing their hands with glee. If you are an engineer you are in for some good wage growth over the coming years

Thats right so NZ has to go OFFSHORE, we can not do this alone.

Thats what should happen, but will people actually want to go and live in CHCH to help with the re build?

You also have to consider where you are going to house these imported builders and engineers. How you are going to transport the goods as part of the build, where are you going to source all your quarry materials from to produce building products.

Simple fact remains, not too many people will want to move to CHCH unless they have somewhere to live and are paid well.

It can be done, but it will take a long time

The rebuild will carry on for ten years plus. Goofy won't............

Labour's weakness is twofold: Poor record as govt for 9 years and dependent on buying votes with promises to steal from taxpayers and borrow from foreigners to fund badly thought out policy that fails to improve the economy....but always grows the benefit battalions and promises endless support for Labour.

It did not take Labour long to try to make hay from the quake.......!

Had some building industry guy on the Teev this am saying we need to bring in a bunch of cheap labour for the building industry, saying we are lacking the manpower. Pure bullshit! There are heaps of builders and other tradespeople able to be trained, in other occupations or in Aussie, they just need a decent financial incentive to pick up the tools. We are in a common labour market with Australia but kidding ourselves we can pay 40% less.

This is just typical, aren't we supposed to be trying to become a higher wage country? So Kiwi wages are undercut/outsourced/eliminated - is that the way to raise our living standards? See what's happening in our fishing, horticulture, farming and manufacturing, IT, call centres etc. jobs disapeared or reduced to minimum wage levels.

Are we now in a common labour market with Vietnam? 

What he said has a lot of truth in it, sure we have the builders here, but we dont have all the numbers required so offshore labour will be required.

You mention training, CHCH needs these people now, not after many years of training.

We can be a high wage country Dave, but it will also be a high cost country too, you cant have one with out the other