Invercargill labour shortage threatens development of much-needed construction

Incentives are being considered to lure construction workers to Invercargill as a shortage of labour threatens its development.

Local construction company ABL has already doubled their staff to keep up but they need more.

“With Queenstown closing down we've had people come out of there but at the same stage with all the other work happening around the rest of the country and the south island and it's sucked up that spare resource,” says Bruce Middleton of ABL.

While the construction boom is great for Southland jobs and the local economy, it's now putting pressure on other projects that need to be done. Some may not see a tradespersons on site for quite some time.

Many projects are already underway, including the $180 million inner city redevelopment and a new 4.5-star hotel.

And there's more to come -like, the controversial Southland Museum redevelopment and an inner-city streetscape overhaul.

On top of all that, there's constant demand for new homes and renovations.

“Eighteen months ago, we would be looking at a lead time of 3 to 5 weeks in most of those trade sectors, now we are looking at six months plus,” says recruitment consultant Dylan Rigby.

“It is putting pressure on the whole industry, not just the builders but the electricians, plumbers, painters, right across the board.

Officials in the region are now looking at ways to attract hundreds more skilled professionals.

“The major centres seem to dominate the workforce and people seem reluctant to move out into a smaller region, but the lifestyle and the opportunity it provides can't be underestimated,” says Neil McAra of Southland Chamber of Commerce.

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