The construction industry is in a strong position to protect and create jobs in these tough economic times — with Government support.
Prudent investment by the Government in New Zealand’s residential infrastructure, in partnership with local government and industry, will maintain employment and critical mass in the construction, construction product manufacturing and construction retail industries.
That’s according to Beacon Pathway general manager Nick Collins, who commented in the wake of the Government’s recent Job Summit.
The summit on employment, held in South Auckland, aimed to find practical solutions to support the highest possible levels of employment as the country weathers the downturn.
Mr Collins says National’s focus on upgrading state housing is an excellent leadership position which can be built on by encouraging and incentivising other home-owning New Zealanders to do the same.
“The residential sector is a large source of employment — the house building and renovation industry is worth in excess of $12 billion annually, and directly employs about 5% of the workforce,” Mr Collins says.
“There is significant economic and social benefit in redirecting this resource to improving the current housing stock in recessionary times.”
Numbers are compelling
A standard 1940-1960 home renovated for improved performance would require an estimated 277 hours of labour split between a variety of sub-trades.
Data indicates that for every 1000 houses retrofitted, 151 full-time equivalent jobs would be required for delivery solely of on-site retrofitting services, and 392 full-time equivalent jobs would be required to provide the products and services involved in the renovation activity.
“An initiative of this scale would also mitigate the risk of losing skilled tradespeople to offshore markets,” Mr Collins says.
Vital to retain expertise
“The construction industry is cyclical by nature, so it’s vital that New Zealand retains this expertise so the industry is ready to hit the ground running when the economy recovers.”
There are several employment benefits to undertaking wide-scale renovation:
• Broad spectrum of skills involved: Renovation activity involves a broad spectrum of skills and trades, from unskilled labour through to qualified electricians, plumbers and builders and, hence, provides a diversity of employment opportunities.
• Skills easily transferrable: The jobs and skills required by renovation activity are easily transferred into and out of new build activity, providing a flexible workforce. As the housing stock is upgraded and New Zealand lifts out of a period of recession, the developed skill sets required for renovation can be easily retuned for the new build construction sector.
• Regional targeting possible: Specific regional targeting of renovation activity based on housing stock is possible, assisting communities who are in greater need of securing jobs and retaining skilled workers.
• NZ-made products targeted for use: Renovation activity can use and target New Zealand-made products and services, helping to support the wider local economy (for instance, through using locally-made insulation materials).
• Low-skilled labour also required: The need for an element of low-skilled labour in renovation installation provides employment for many who need it most.