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Learning from New Zealand’s Global Construction Recruitment Campaign


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In a unique drive to pull more construction and engineering personnel to New Zealand from abroad, the LookSee Build recruitment campaign was established by 21 of New Zealand’s top construction and engineering firms. These companies include companies among others APL, Downer, Dominion, Naylo r Love, Opus, and Fletcher.

With short and long-term skill gaps being identified across the NZ construction market, and the New Zealand National and Labour government pledging to build another $14.36 billion and $8.4 billion worth of infrastructure respectively, the campaign has come at an important time for the nation’s construction market.  

Having launched in October, the LookSee Build recruitment campaign targeted global construction and engineering talent to fill 500 roles in the short-term. However, the number of the employees needed is much higher. Approximately 56,000 construction workers will be needed in the long-term. 

David Kelly, Chief Executive of the Master Builders Association, discusses some of the current issues that need to be addressed by the NZ construction market: "There is that issue of not training enough people. There's an underlying problem, however, and that's the boom/bust nature of the industry. We have these exaggerated swings and while you're training people—if you think about apprentices—they still need employment in the meantime.” (NewsHub)

"There is that issue of not training enough people. There's an underlying problem, however, and that's the boom/bust nature of the industry." 

Mr Kelly is eager to have more feet on the ground, no matter where they hail from: “These are people who have worked on some of the biggest and most complex builds in the world, and they will be able to pass on new ways of doing things, suggest new technology and devise creative and ingenious solutions to complex problems.” (Stuff.co.nz)

All applicants that successfully land one of the opportunities will receive $2,000 to cover, at least partially, the costs of their flights. They will also receive an equivalent amount to have their visa prepared and processed. The applicants will also have a chance to be involved in a New Zealand experience of their own choice. These include a Black Caps cricket match, surfing at Raglan, a Maori cultural performance in Rotorua, fishing on the Hauraki Gulf, bungee jumping at Queenstown, a water adventure, wine-tasting on Waiheke Island, and a mystery adventure for those that aren’t feint-hearted. 

Site Safe, a not-for-profit organisation providing worksite safety training, has recently teamed up with a Filipino recruitment agency to bring in more accessible talent. Alison Molloy, the Chief Executive of Site Safe is confident about the shift: 

“Teaming up with great recruitment agencies in the Philippines means workers will already have the right health and safety training to get them out on site faster. This will help minimise delays for the New Zealand businesses who employ Filipino workers and provide a smoother transition process for the workers on arrival.

“We recognise that access to workers is a significant hurdle facing the construction industry and believe that this partnership will help improve turnaround timeframes for both our members and the wider industry.” (Scoop)

The campaign has, however, come with some negative feedback. Many New Zealanders believe that this movement is essentially funding an influx of overseas construction workers who fill the job opportunities available to the local community. Providing these authentic New Zealand experiences, although very inviting, is only a limited solution to what is a much wider problem. On the other hand, they do provide a unique taste of the lifestyle that is lived by thousands every day. 

The Labour party of NZ have also recently released the promise that they will cut net migration to New Zealand by approximately 30,000. 

The Labour party of NZ have also recently released the promise that they will cut net migration to New Zealand by approximately 30,000. This will, undoubtedly, impact the drive of the LookSee Build recruitment campaign. 

LookSee Build NZ are seeking jobs including project managers and supervisors, engineers, roading and tunnel engineers, commercial managers and quantity surveyors, civil and traffic managers, design managers and surveyors, and structural engineers.

The first batch of overseas construction and engineering personnel are expected to arrive in January, with the second batch in February. Over 13,000 applicants are currently in the screening process to match skills with the necessary opportunities. 

Meanwhile, a similar issue is occurring in Australia as the recent tightening of the 457 temporary visa exacerbates the already existing skills shortage issues. In industries such as mining, construction and energy, the skills shortage is predicted to grow even further within the next five years, fuelling what could possibly be a similar recruitment campaign to that of New Zealand’s.  

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