11 Apr 2012

Skills shortages may slow down rebuild boom

7:01 am on 11 April 2012

Buoyant employment intentions in Canterbury businesses are raising questions over whether the region will have sufficient skilled workers for reconstruction of quake-damaged infrastructure, says an employment commentator.

"Can we actually find enough of the right people to help with the re-build?" says Hudson Report's executive general manager Roman Rogers. "That will be a significant challenge of the region to overcome.

"Certain skillsets are required, particularly in the initial stages of the rebuild, where they need engineers that actually have got experience in things to do with seismic activity," he said. "There's a specific skillset that is be required".

"There will be times when there will be specific skill shortages, which we think will slow down the development," says Mr Rogers.

Canterbury will take 15 to 20 years to reconstruct, and the South Island should be considering how it can start training people in the skills that will be required, or retrain people with expertise close to what will be needed.

Mr Rogers' comments come as business sentiment hits its highest level in more than a year, partly driven by a jump in hiring intentions in Canterbury and an unexpected rise in government-sector recruitment plans.

Employers are more bullish about the months ahead, despite a slow start to the year, according to the Hudson Report's quarterly employment and human resources trend .

It says nearly 24% of employers surveyed intend to hire more permanent staff this quarter, 6% more than during the past three months and nearly 4% more than at the same time a year ago.

South Island employers have recorded the highest level of sentiment in the 12-year history of the Hudson Report - with more than half of the surveyed businesses saying they intend to hire more staff.

Mr Rogers says hiring intentions in both the lower North Island and in the government sector have also risen.