It has been reported that 5000 construction workers are needed in the Canterbury area of New Zealand to help with the rebuild. Since the earthquake in February 2011, the area has been in need of skilled construction workers for the Canterbury rebuild project. The recent figure has been estimated to cover the period Dec 2014 to Dec 2016 which will be the peak of the rebuild.
As a result of the demand for overseas workers and to help with the rebuild, a number of immigration changes have been announced, to come into effect on the 1st July 2015.
The three main changes are:
- – Extend the Essential Skills Visa for low skilled occupations from one to three years (until December 2016)
- – Allow workers to change employers without having to apply to change their visa
- – The introduction of an accreditation programme for labour-hire companies
New Zealand Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse announced the changes earlier this month. He commented that:
“Supporting the Canterbury rebuild is one of the Government’s four main priorities and we need to remove barriers to employers recruiting migrant workers when New Zealanders are not available to do the work,”
The changes are also to come into effect in order to reduce migrant worker exploitation.
The rebuild project has now moved on from earthquake repairs to large-scale commercial projects. There have been delays however to major projects causing frustration for local residents and businesses. The Metro Sports Facility, for example, was due to be open in 2017 but this has now been changed to 2020. The Construction Centre has been delayed and is now due to open in 2018.
The workers union EPMU has commented on the new regulations saying that they are generally welcomed but outlined concerns regarding housing supply in the area. They are also calling for labour-hire companies in the country to commit to training their employees so that there is a more long-term focus.
The main focus of the Canterbury Rebuild project is Christchurch’s central business district as this was the area which was most damaged during the earthquake. It is estimated that 70% of the buildings in this area will be removed and in most cases replaced. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) is responsible for the rebuild in the area and is aiming to make the new city more environmentally friendly and safer.
The New Zealand Immigration Department has stated that migrants are needed to bridge gaps in supply and talent not met by New Zealand workers. This is particularly relevant in an area which suffered a population decrease after the earthquake.
Further information on emigrating to New Zealand can be found here: New Zealand Immigration.