Labour Shortage

Earlier this month, I spoke to Matt McLean on the TVNZ Breakfast show about migration. The Australian Government had recently announced a proposal to force new migrants to settle in regional areas in a bid to ease pressure on Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The proposal suggested the Australian Government could introduce visa conditions limiting where some migrants live for up to five years, citing that it would not only ease congestion on the major cities, but also more rapidly grow the smaller states and regions.

Speaking to Matt about such a proposal, I commented on how we in Ashburton are working to attract and retain migrants and other newcomers in our district through initiatives such as the Welcoming Communities pilot programme. This programme is all about helping newcomers feel part of their new community, through making connections and being made to feel valued and welcomed.

This is vitally important because while also contributing to a district that is rich in cultures, migrants play a key part in meeting our labour demands, which helps to boost our local economy.  Thousands of people have left their home countries to put down new roots in our area in recent years, helping to fill our skills shortage, but there are still businesses and employers in our community trying to fill jobs.

The Council understood that this was a big issue for our district, and commissioned a plan to assess Ashburton’s labour force and address the labour shortage. The Council received this Labour Force Plan at our meeting yesterday (Tuesday 30 October).

A key point from the plan was that while we are the 6th most desired district for business, we are also the 12th most desired for living. While these are excellent outcomes on their own, they also imply that Ashburton is viewed more favourably as a place to do business than as a place to live and this could help explain why we don’t have enough people to fill job vacancies. Attracting people to live in our district is therefore essential.

This labour shortage has real impacts on our district. The plan reported that it actually costs Ashburton $16 million per year in terms of lost output, and if left unchecked, this could rise to over $100 million by 2030.

Moving forward, implementing this plan will be a crucial part of ensuring that our district continues to grow and proposer for years to come. That is why the Labour Force Plan has been referred to the Council’s Chief Executive, Hamish Riach, to be implemented as appropriate. You can read the full Ashburton Labour Force Plan on the Council website www.ashburtondc.govt.nz​

Page reviewed: 08 Nov 2018 5:02pm