12 Sep 2021

Construction industry feeling the pinch of shortages, staffing

11:11 am on 12 September 2021

Global supply chain problems and workforce restrictions are having a sharp impact on the construction industry.

No caption

Photo: RNZ/ Dom Thomas

A construction academic said supply-chain delays caused by Covid-19 are less of a threat than workforce shortages, in the longer term.

Building projects are waiting on materials for months, and the Delta lockdown has brought most manufacturers and distributors in Auckland to a halt.

But AUT's John Tookey said that at the same time, the country needs more qualified builders coming through the border.

"The shortage of building materials will dissipate over time because you'll start to see additional capacity gradually laid on and additional importation channels gradually introduced.

"The issue of skills is one which, quite frankly, is going to carry on biting for the foreseeable future."

Tookey said firms can struggle to train apprentices when they have so much work to do.

With supply problems, an Auckland builder said that New Zealand-made products are sometimes as hard to get as those from overseas.

Titirangi builder Guy Cobcroft said the quest for local products has not brought much relief.

"We've tried to go for local brands hoping that they're going to be a bit better off with the stock supplies, but we've still had significant delays.

"I don't really have the answer on that apart from looking way ahead at the projects we've got coming up and trying to order, or get the customers to make their minds up well ahead of time, so we can put orders in as soon as possible.

Cobcroft said he expects it could be one or two years before the shortages end.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs