Many of the key players involved in the construction rebuild of Christchurch have programmes in place to recruit internationally.
It is projected that 20,000 new homes will be built in the next five years. This, coupled with the significant commercial projects to be undertaken in the central city and elsewhere, including the repair and rebuilding of dozens of schools means there is a particular need for carpenters and builders. There is also a need for those with associated skill sets, including painters and decorators, plasterers, scaffolders and electricians. It is anticipated that demand will be staggered due to the stage in the construction process. Many of the opportunities are permanent or long term. The current focus of the rebuild is very much on the repair and replacement of Christchurch’s horizontal infrastructure – 50 per cent of which has sustained damage during the earthquakes. This includes wastewater repairs, resealing of roads, bridge reconstruction and general civil construction works.
Contractors assisting with the recovery effort are now actively recruiting overseas road workers, digger drivers, pipelayers, civil foremen and contracts managers –especially those who have experience working on behalf of local authorities. It is estimated that this aspect of the rebuild will take six years. Another area where there will be demand for overseas workers is in transport and logistics. Many small to medium-sized trucking companies have experienced a significant increase in work – especially those supplying construction supplies, and there is a need to increase their work force. Immigration New Zealand has released a Canterbury Skill Shortage List, which is dominated by construction-related roles.
In the last quarter of 2012 there was a significant increase in rebuild activity in Christchurch. This has been triggered by the unveiling of the ‘blueprint’ for the recovery of central Christchurch, which was seriously damaged by earthquakes in early 2011. The blueprint identifies 15 anchor projects as part of the recovery and rebuild of the central city, including construction of the convention centre and a covered sports stadium that will hold 35,000 people.
Generally, the buildings will be low-rise and compact and the area will be bordered by a ‘green frame’ – signifying Christchurch’s image as a green city. The central city will be made up of several precincts, including retail, cultural, arts and justice precincts. The Christchurch Cathedral and the square that surrounds the cathedral will be retained as the heart of the city – however it will change, as it will be bordered in part by the new convention centre.
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