Christchurch bar owner spends $20,000 trying to recruit staff

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Bar and restaurant owner Jeremy Stevens has spent $20,000 desperately trying to recruit workers over the past year – and he’s still seriously short of staff.

Stevens is one of many employers in Canterbury battling a staff shortage that new research shows requires thousands of immigrants every year to address.

Dr. David Dyason of the University of Lincoln has calculated that the region will be short of at least 10,000 skilled and unskilled workers per year for the foreseeable future.

Stevens, co-owner of Aikmans Bar and Eatery, Cafe Valentino and Mr Brightside bar in Christchurch, said he may have to reduce operations at his two city center premises from seven days a week to five.

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“We have to spend so much on recruitment that it has a major effect on our bottom line. This is by far my biggest problem.

Stevens said before the pandemic about a third of his staff were in New Zealand on working holiday visas.

He has 63 workers now, but needs “a dozen more”. He said he constantly advertises and has recently turned to recruitment companies, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Workers were hard to keep and he said he had to pay more for less skilled people as borders closed.

Jo McKenzie-McLean/Stuff

Vineyard employers are trying to find creative ways to attract workers facing labor shortages caused by border closures. (First published October 2020)

Dyason’s research into Canterbury’s response to border closures and the Covid-19 pandemic found that an influx of people before the pandemic, coupled with the decline in economic activity afterwards, created a reserve of labor for the region, “but it is rapidly shrinking”.

His article stated that the aging of the population contributes to the problem of a shrinking labor force.

“For a region that relied heavily on the international labor market, border restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic could potentially be disastrous if the restrictions persist in the long term,” Dyason said.

Dr David Dyason of the University of Lincoln says Canterbury needs 10,000 extra workers a year.

Provided

Dr David Dyason of the University of Lincoln says Canterbury needs 10,000 extra workers a year.

ChristchurchNZ chief economist Jorge Chang Urrea said labor shortages were severe in the engineering, technology, health, food and fiber, manufacturing and manufacturing sectors. agro-technology and manufacturing.

Population aging would mean an estimated shortfall of 50,000 workers through 2030, with the effects of border closures adding to that, Urrea said.

“Basically, there are not enough skilled workers here. Employers are desperate to find and retain staff, in all areas.

“If we don’t have a skilled workforce, it hurts the region’s productivity. We definitely need migrants and we are lobbying the central government to allow workers in.

Christchurch manufacturers are among those struggling to hire workers.

123rf

Christchurch manufacturers are among those struggling to hire workers.

Leeann Watson, chief executive of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, agreed the region was short of tens of thousands of workers even before Covid.

“Now, with the borders closed and without the same levels of immigration, it definitely has an additional cost,” she said.

Watson said while hospitality and horticulture had always depended on foreign visitors, a wide range of industries were being badly affected.

“Across all sectors, this is having an impact – on both skilled and unskilled workers,” she said.

“Labour shortage is the number one issue employers tell us about. Some of them require staff.

Leeann Watson, CEO of the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce and Employers, says the labor shortage is affecting industries across the board.

CHRIS SKELTON / Stuff

Leeann Watson, CEO of the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce and Employers, says the labor shortage is affecting industries across the board.

Watson said while the government had programs in the works to boost specific skills, other solutions were needed in the meantime.

Extending the temporary work visa made a significant difference, but a long-term change in immigration policy was needed, she said.

“The needs are right now. We need international talent, we’re just not big enough as a country,” Watson said. “Businesses and migrants need certainty.”

Healthcare and medical workers are in high demand in New Zealand.  (File photo)

ID Irwin/Unsplash

Healthcare and medical workers are in high demand in New Zealand. (File photo)

A chamber submission to the government’s Productivity Commission in September called for both vocational education and more flexible migration.

“Loss of productivity due to labor shortages can impact a business’s ability to operate, let alone focus on future innovation, and can put additional pressure on business owners. company and the workers,” he said.

Neil Hamilton, chief executive of industry body Canterbury Tech, said things were “very tight” for tech employers.

Previously, companies relied heavily on foreign workers for the most skilled roles, he said.

“A lot of employers have trouble finding people. They must compete with foreign companies in Australia and Silicon Valley [in the United States] recruit remotely. »

Hamilton said tech companies need to attract more people and hire and train less experienced staff.

The government’s recent allocation of additional visas has been helpful, but “a drop in the ocean”, and more workers need to be recruited, he said.

Some tech workers taking jobs overseas had doubled their wages, and while larger local companies could pay more, smaller ones couldn’t afford it, Hamilton said.

Additional report by Marine Lourens

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