A construction worker shortage is a danger for the Government’s housing plans, which include 7500 affordable and social homes in Tamaki, Auckland.
The Government has outlined a multi-pronged approach to solving the country’s shortage of construction workers.
Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa said its construction skills action plan would target six areas, bringing together the Government’s control over its own contracts and immigration settings, with an additional focus on skills and training.
“Together we will ensure the construction sector can deliver the right people at the right time with the right skills to meet our construction needs.”
The building sector is responsible for 6 per cent of New Zealand’s economy and employs more than 250,000 people. But it is expected that about 55,000 to 60,000 more workers will be needed over the next five years
Several ministers accompanied Salesa to make the announcement at an Auckland Housing NZ building site
Economic Development Minister David Parker will be in charge of leveraging government procurement to give companies more certainty to invest and train construction workers.
Meanwhile, Employment Minister Willie Jackson will be in charge of establishing hubs offering industry-specific training for job seekers, and for construction projects that offer recruitment and skills.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins will work on promoting construction careers and “micro-credentials,” and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni will work on expanding industry skills.
Jackson will also be in charge of the “Mana in Mahi – Strength in Work” scheme, a wage subsidy for employers who hire registered job seekers and offer an industry qualification.
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway was in charge of further immigration changes. He has already announced changes to immigration settings to make it easier for companies to bring in overseas construction workers.
Previously Salesa has said the plan must cross several government departments and engage the industry if it is to work
“If we are to increase the capacity and capability of the construction workforce, we cannot work in silos.”
The ministers have been working on the plan since the start of the year. About 140 organisations attended workshops in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, before the plan headed to Cabinet for discussion at the end of August.
The Government sees the construction worker shortage as a major impediment to its Kiwibuild election promise to facilitate 100,000 new houses in 10 years.
In June it announced a proposed a KiwiBuild Skills Shortages list, which would enable accredited employers to quickly hire overseas workers in critical roles without Immigration NZ needing to conduct a market test each time.
But Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said he would not allow overseas workers to be paid less than their New Zealand counterparts.
Meanwhile, new data shows Auckland building consents have reached 12,959 in the year to August, eclipsing the city’s previous record set during the building boom in 2004.
Auckland mayor Phil Goff said seven years ago the city was only issuing about 3,600 consents a year.
“The Auckland Unitary Plan is playing a significant role, opening up vast areas for new and more intensive housing. We are working on ways to find and increase infrastructure build to allow more housing.”
Goff said Kiwibuild would add an additional extra 1000 social housing units a year. “We are still in catch-up mode and much more remains to be done to get on top of what is one of the biggest problems facing Auckland.
“However, these numbers show that real progress in the right direction is being made.”