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New Zealand Unites in Innovative Bid for UK Construction Talent

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Written by Amy

New Zealand’s building sector has united to target construction talent in the UK in an unprecedented recruitment push to fill thousands of jobs needed for the biggest infrastructure and housing build in the Pacific nation’s history.

The consortia of government organisations, local body entities and private companies are launching a campaign LookSee Build NZ this week to attract some of the more than 56,000 staff, including 2,200 senior roles, it is estimated New Zealand needs for the more than NZ$125 billion programme of infrastructure works over the next decade. The country is simultaneously embarking on the biggest housing build ever attempted, with 100,000 new homes slated for construction over the next three years and more promised in the coming decade.

It is the first time New Zealand’s public and private construction sector have combined in a single cause and Downer NZ general manager network maintenance and civil construction Craig West says the need for top talent is so acute it required an innovative approach to talent procurement.

“Our construction sector is very competitive and this kind of inter-industry cooperation has never happened before but the need for staff requires us to take an all-of-industry approach,” West says. “We’ve united to solve a big problem for all of us and we’ve come to the UK because that is where some of the best global construction talent is.”

Auckland Transport chief infrastructure officer Greg Edmonds says the recent downturn in British construction activity created an ideal employment environment in which to make a pitch to potential migrants to New Zealand.

“We’ve conducted qualitative research into the UK construction industry and this shows the vast majority of respondents are interested in job opportunities in New Zealand,” says Edmonds. “More than 82% were prepared to pay their own travel and more than half were prepared to migrate within three months.”

If people do get a job as a result of LookSee Build NZ their airfares to New Zealand will be repaid, he says.

To persuade prospective employees to take the trip Down Under, LookSee Build NZ is also offering a range of quintessential Kiwi ‘experiences’ as a means to entice construction professionals  to the country, says construction management consultant Aaron Muir.

“There’s a whole range of experiences we’re offering as part of the deal – fishing, surfing and canoeing, cultural events, the chance to see stunning sites of natural beauty – that will give prospective migrants a taste of what to expect if they choose to live in New Zealand,” he says.

Edmonds says New Zealand offers more than just lifestyle – the projects approved for construction are world-class, complex infrastructure builds that will appeal to ambitious skilled staff who want to further their careers.

“The Christchurch rebuild is actually still ongoing, then there’s the America’s Cup and the massive development plans for Auckland’s waterfront, while a whole suite of ongoing transport initiatives mean our construction is facing a decades-long full pipeline,” Edmonds says.

LookSee Build NZ are seeking project manager and supervisors, civil and traffic engineers, roading & tunnel engineers, commercial managers and quantity surveyors, design managers and surveyors, structural engineers and draughts people among a wide range of specialist construction roles.

Muir cites Infrastructure NZ figures showing public and private works valued at NZ$125 billion to be built over the next ten years and notes election infrastructure promises that will see up to an additional NZ$14 billion added.

Muir says the free Kiwi experiences will not by themselves persuade people to make the move “but what it will do is give them a genuine taste of the lifestyle that is on offer in New Zealand. What puts New Zealand above Dubai and Singapore is the quality of living experience that is unmatched around the world.”

More information about the recruitment campaign can be found at

About LookSee Build NZ

LookSee Build NZ is an innovative international talent procurement programme that turns the traditional recruitment process on its head by taking the opportunities in New Zealand to the world and, in turn, bringing the world back to New Zealand.

It is specifically designed to address an acute skills and talent shortage in the construction sector and future-proof the building industry as the country gears up for the largest infrastructure build in the nation’s history.

Acting on behalf of a range of participating employers, including public and private sector entities, the LookSee Build NZ campaign is targeting highly skilled professionals from the UK, Ireland and Canada to assist them in becoming ‘New Zealand-ready’ before match-making candidates who are interested, qualified and available with the appropriate employer.


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