As many as half a million New Zealanders are willing to work in Christchurch and help rebuild the city destroyed in the recent earthquake.
Many of those who left Canterbury also plan to return, as per the findings of the first official poll that estimated the work force available to help rebuild the earthquake-affected region.
However, there are still thousands considering leaving.
The Allied Work Force (AWF) Horizon Poll reveals that the continuing aftershocks are not as worrying to workers as are permanent jobs, money and a place to live.
This is good news for the region facing big labour shortage.
Up to half a million people are prepared to work in Christchurch if there’s a guaranteed job, the money’s right and they are given a place to stay, says the poll conducted over the past few days.
Mike Huddleston, AWF’s chief executive, says that is just as well because right now the demand for workers to help restore businesses is greater than the supply.
“We have had all sorts of agencies contact us to get pools of workers, but we have been unable to assist them because we are finding it hard enough to get the teams AWF needs for businesses,” Mr Huddleston says.
AWF is one of New Zealand’s largest employers of temporary staff across all sectors of industry.
The poll asked 1760 respondents across the country if they would consider moving to Christchurch to work on its reconstruction. Just over 23 percent, which means potentially half a million people, said they would.
The biggest attraction for workers (34 percent) is more money than what they are earning now, followed by a guaranteed job (25 percent) and if accommodation is arranged (25 percent). The “challenge” is seen as attractive by 18 percent.
However, nearly 30,000 people (19.5%) are still thinking about leaving the earthquake affected area.
“New Zealand needs to find ways to convince those people who haven’t left yet to stay,” Huddleston says.
The poll reveals about 50,112 (11 percent) of people have already left, another 6,060 who make up part of a family have left and a further 3,750 have already made up their minds to go.
Nearly two of the threewho have left think they will return within three months, 16 percent say they might not return and only 8 percent of people who had jobs there are adamant that they will never go back.
Some have already found work outside of Canterbury, but just over half of those who left have not looked for new work yet.
The big issues people are considering in deciding whether to go back are work (53 percent), narrowly nudging out how the family feels about living there (50.3 percent), how well the region’s infrastructure is restored (49.8 percent), better work (46.6 percent) and being closer to friends (46.1 percent).
Those reasons come well ahead of fewer aftershocks (14.7 percent) or confidence that the devastation will not happen again (19.7 percent).
Nearly 50 percent of workers kept their job in Canterbury and a further 21 percent retained some of their work according to the poll, which had 239 Canterbury responses.
However, there is good news for those providing the means for businesses to be able to continue in the Canterbury area. Only 10 percent thought the response to achieve this was poor with 34 percent classing them as “good”.