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Christchurch Three Years On: Lifestyle beckons as much as dollars

Employment recruiter Tradestaff’s managing director Kevin Eder says workers are coming to Christchurch for the lifestyle as well as the money.

Tradestaff specialises in placing workers into trades and construction roles and has witnessed the momentum gather.   

Recent census figures from Statistics New Zealand show the number of construction workers in Canterbury rose 53.8% since 2006. But this figure will have accelerated since then.

“People in the construction industry are coming to Christchurch because they can ensure continuity of work – the rebuild will be a 10-15 year project,” Mr Eder told NBR.

With salaries on a par with Auckland and often less than Australia, workers are also looking at lifestyle, a friendly welcome, relatively affordable cost of living and climate.

“A carpenter in Christchurch earns about the same as a carpenter in Auckland. However, that carpenter can buy a house here and easily go mountain biking or for a walk along the beach after work,” he says.

Mr Eder has also observed some younger, less experienced workers relocating to Christchurch from parts of the country where construction is relatively dormant, such as Hawke’s Bay.  

Tradestaff is increasingly looking overseas to fill the skills shortages and on average it recruits 10-12 workers from the UK a month.  

Those coming to Christchurch are well educated and skilled and include building surveyors, engineers, construction project managers, carpenters, joiners and bricklayers.  These are all professions that feature highly on the Ministry of Business Christchurch skills shortage list.  

“Those coming to New Zealand are bringing vibrancy to the workplace and ultimately the city,” Mr Eder says.

To ease the transition into New Zealand, Tradestaff have partnered with New Zealand Skills in Demand, a New Zealand company based in the UK that sources and matches candidates to Tradestaff’s requirements.  

As the economy in the UK picks up, many of those looking to move to Christchurch are doing so because they want the Canterbury way of life.  The rebuild has given many people the opportunity to migrate with firm employment options.

One of those to migrate is UK-born carpenter Steven Giltinan with his family. Tradestaff placed Mr Giltinan with a Christchurch building company while also finding employment for his wife, Clare.  

“Since we’ve arrived here, we’ve found Christchurch is such a beautiful place that we can’t see us leaving the area” Mr Giltinan says.  

Tradestaff is preparing for the rebuild and the growing New Zealand economy, hiring additional consulting staff across its 13-branch network.  

The company anticipates the Christchurch rebuild will really take off in the later parts of 2014.  

Read: the rest of the Christchurch Three Years On feature stories here