​In the town whose namesake derives from being fit for her majesty, Queenstown only holds a permanent population of under 20,000. However, drawn in by its sheer beauty and adventure tourism, the region welcomes more than 100 times its population every year as visitors. Driven by tourism, it isn't often we hear about the state of other industries in the region. But what are the prospects for construction recruitment in Queenstown?

As the Branch Manager of Tradestaff in Queenstown, Derek Hibberd has a thing or two to say. He knows that there is heaps of work out there, but he also realises that this is half the problem for the local construction industry.

"We're lacking in skilled candidates in Queenstown. There are just not enough people to carry out all of the jobs that need to be done," suggests Derek.

Though there are many available, construction workers are not drawn to Queenstown because of the job opportunities.

This skill shortage was the subject of a recent investigation from the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce. A recent survey of 287 business people in the Queenstown Lakes District revealed that 86 per cent of businesses have been negatively impacted by a lack of appropriate and available workers over 2015. The future wasn't looking overly bright either, with 91 per cent anticipating that this issue will continue throughout 2016.

At the moment, Derek reckons at least 70 to 80 per cent of the roles Tradestaff fills in Queenstown are with people visiting temporarily, both from overseas and elsewhere in New Zealand. But due to a number of problems, recruitment is rarely a walk in the park for employers or candidates.

Recruitment proves problematic for construction employers

The lack of a permanent population base in the region is a major contributor to the difficulties many business owners face filling permanent construction-based roles, but even temporary positions are proving problematic to fill. 

"Once you find someone skilled, you have to make sure they have somewhere to live otherwise they end up having to leave town."

"It's quite a challenge," Derek explained. "There's a lot of people on working holiday visas we deal with, so it can be quite tough because there is a constant churn as a result of that."

The Queenstown Chamber of Commerce report reinforced exactly what Derek was saying, as, out of the five key issues emerging from the study, three relate directly to the visa process. Employers are confounded by the restrictions applied by published skills shortages, the time it takes to process applications and the general eligibility for visitors to work in the region. The other two related to a lack of affordable accommodation, something Derek also saw as a major hurdle for many employers.

"Once you find someone skilled, you have to make sure they have somewhere to live otherwise they end up having to leave town."

"If they don't have somewhere to live where they can have a decent quality of life, it's not going to compel them to stay for very long," says Derek. "If you can tick all the boxes for someone, you're good as gold, but it can be a bit of swings and roundabouts from time to time."

Some employers who do all the extra legwork in terms of relocation and training become overwhelmed with workers moving on so quickly – but there are other options.

A lack of available talent is impacting organisations considerably.

Ensuring that an international worker is the right choice

Even though 85 per cent of business owners surveyed by the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce are exploring their options around temporary recruitment solutions, particularly around international workers on holiday visas, the process isn't proving to be overly successful. On average, it's taking longer than two months for employers to fill roles and many aren't acquiring the right candidates.

"There are people who are going to take you for a ride, but there are some really good people out there if you just give them a chance."

Derek says a lot of employers are prepared to give international workers a job, but often they end up getting bitten. With mounting workloads, many employers don't have the time to complete the recruitment process thoroughly – and this may be their downfall.

"You do get people from overseas that say they can do certain things and then when they actually get down to it, they can't do it to the degree that is required by the employer," warned Derek.

"There are people who are going to take you for a ride, but there are some really good people out there if you get it right."

Often, it's just a matter of having someone to get the groundwork done right, says Derek. And that is exactly what Tradestaff is here to do. Once we've assessed that an overseas tradesperson is of a decent calibre and suitable for your position, we can help out by making sure they get established in town beforehand – we do all that extra legwork for employers.

Tradestaff will complete the full recruitment process before the employer even has to pay a cent. We make sure we get to know your company and the role you need filled before we start recommending candidates, which saves a lot of time and a takes a lot of the guesswork out of the recruitment process. For more information, get in touch with the team at Tradestaff today.