Resourcing the Canterbury rebuild: Changes and emerging themes

Alice Chang-Richards, Suzanne Wilkinson, Erica Seville. June 2012
Resilient Organisations Research Report 2012/02


The second quarter of 2012 has seen a clearer plan for the recovery of Christchurch over the next few years. The targeted Government’s agenda involves a $5.5 billion 2012 Government Budget (1) and the creation of a new Christchurch Central Development Unit (2) to lead the rebuild of Christchurch Central. This in turn enables the organisations involved in the rebuilding of Christchurch to start finding efficiencies as part of their resourcing plans. Depending on the pace of recovery, and the emergence of damage information as properties and buildings are assessed, the estimated demand for workers varies significantly. The labour forecasts show between 20,000 and 30,000 extra construction-related workers could be required at the peak of the rebuild (CESB, 2011). In the national context, the Canterbury rebuild and other significant projects across New Zealand are forecast to drive up construction-related employment by about 6% in the 2013 March year and by about 11% in the 2014 March year (DoL, 2012).   Within these economic parameters, construction organisations have been gearing up with a wide range of resourcing initiatives to link the organisations’ development with immigration, education, innovation and employment. Since 2012, there have been signs of construction businesses actively working alongside the government and industry agencies, such as the Industry Training Organisations (ITOs), Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), Canterbury Employment and Skills Board (CESB), Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (CECC) and Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC), in skills training and development. Various joint actions were established to find innovative solutions to one of the most fundamental issues New Zealand construction industry faces − low productivity and low efficiency. Interviews with construction organisations in May 2012 confirmed the major issues noted in the RecRes project’s January and April reports (Chang and Wilkinson, 2012; Chang et al., 2012) remain current. In the second quarter of 2012, major challenges for these organisations in the rebuild process are still attributed to a resources issue. There have been changes in resource demands and corresponding strategy adjustments the recovery stakeholders employed in response to those changes. The perceived changes and prominent issues were:

  • Resource effects are more apparent as the rebuild picks up, with some construction businesses struggling while others have proved resilient to
    resource shortages, and
  • Nationwide, engineering companies have felt a major pinch, with more Non-Christchurch-based structural and geotechnical engineers rotating to local
    branches and increased recruitment from other seismic-prone countries.

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