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Importing workforce not the answer

Jacinda ARDERN
Employment Spokesperson
18 May 2011

Importing workforce not the answer

The Government has refused to rule out using migrant labour in the rebuild of Christchurch even though it still has time to ensure enough Kiwis are trained to do the work, says Labour’s Employment spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.

“Last week Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce belatedly announced $42 million for trades training in the Canterbury region, some nine months after the first quake struck and it became obvious that there would be a major shortfall in terms of a skilled workforce,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Now today in the House, Maurice Williamson, answering questions on behalf of Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, refused to rule that labour won’t be imported from overseas to fill gaps that emerge in the next two to four years.

“Mr Williamson said it would be foolish to make that guarantee because there are too many unknowns,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“It is more foolish to sit back and wait rather than train or re-train enough people to do the job ourselves. Clearly Mr Joyce’s package doesn’t go far enough. In fact, it amounts to less than the funding National cut out of skills and trades training last year.

“The new Christchurch package will instead train at best only 1,500 young people, when the number of building and construction trainees dropped by over 2,000 since his Government took office” Jacinda Ardern said. “With more than 25% of young people looking for work, we need to do much more.

“The Government must act now to build an army of workers with the right mix of skills to rebuild the devastated Canterbury region, including the tens of thousands of homes, schools and businesses that have been destroyed or damaged. Importing labour is not the answer New Zealand --- especially young New Zealanders --- needs.

“Boosting the number of skilled workers is necessary not only for Canterbury but also to meet the growing housing shortage crisis in Auckland, the expected increased demand to repair leaky buildings and the loss of many qualified tradespeople lured to Australia by higher pay packets,” Jacinda Ardern said.


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