Sally McFarlane has been with Tradestaff for nearly 10 years, and she hasn't lost any of her drive for labour recruitment over the decade. In 2015, she was awarded the Tradestaff Excellence Award for Recruiter of the Year for the passion and energy she brings to her role, and in 2016 Sally was again recognised with the Tradestaff Excellence award for Manager of the Year. A born and bred Cantabrian, Sally's currently balancing the demands of two jobs – Tradestaff's International Recruitment Manager, as well as the Christchurch Branch Manager. It's a position she says is a unique challenge.
"Obviously my role is quite different to some of the other managers around New Zealand because I have two very different units, and Christchurch is obviously very different to any other area of New Zealand," she says. "So it's a diverse role, hands-on – we have to think quickly, and we juggle a lot of balls."
The changing landscape of Christchurch's labour recruitment
It's impossible to talk about Christchurch and not talk about the earthquakes, particularly when you're involved with the construction industry. Sally says that her role in post-quake Christchurch is completely different from what it was before.
There's still a desperate need for candidates to take on labour jobs in Christchurch.
"When I first started with Tradestaff in 2007, it was a very different market," she says. "Then the earthquake happened and it was chaos. Now we're well into the rebuild, which is not as reactive as everything was straight after the earthquake when everything was being thrown around crazily. So it is still very busy for us, but it's definitely not as chaotic as it was straight after the earthquakes."
But even as the residential rebuild slows down, there's still a desperate need for candidates to take on a diverse range of blue collar jobs in the city.
"There's still a lot of work going on," Sally says. "A lot of other industries have picked up because of the rebuild, a lot of manufacturing. And once the construction side of the rebuild slows down, other areas associated with building the fit-outs, like painting and electrical, pick up. So Christchurch is still looking to be busy for the next few years, at least."
Meeting labour demands with international recruitment
This struggle to find labour is what makes Sally's work with the International Recruitment unit so important. Recently Sally has been working on a project that brought Pasifika carpenters over to New Zealand to aid in the rebuild, a project that she says has involved a hands-on approach to the recruits' pastoral care.
"We do a lot of support around making sure that they're looking after themselves, that they're eating well, in regards to their tools we assisted with that. Tradestaff looks at it from a family point of view – we want to make sure that the guys are happy and looking after themselves. It's kind of something that's evolved, and we've made sure that the boys are communicated with, looked after and enjoying their time here."
Sally says that it's the same attitude Tradestaff has towards its local recruits.
"Every candidate that works for us, we care about. Yes, they're out working for us, but they're also part of the Tradestaff family. So we like to make sure that if they have any issues at all, they feel that they can come to us, and that they're not treated as just a number – that they are valued."
While there's a push for international recruitment currently, Sally believes that a long-term answer to New Zealand's trade staffing shortage is promoting training and upskilling for Kiwis.
"I do think the training programmes in New Zealand probably need more publicity, and to be pushed more – for young guys or girls coming out of high school, a trade is a good way to go," she says. "I think a lot of young people may not be aware of the opportunities there are in the trades."
Tradestaff's ongoing commitment to its candidates
While there are plenty of moments in her decade with Tradestaff that's Sally's proud of, what stands out is the positive effect Tradestaff has on people's situations.
"What if they were your family members – how would you feel about how they're being treated?"
"It makes you feel good that you've changed these people's lives," Sally says. "With all the candidates that come in looking for a job, if we can help them, then we're changing their life. And that's a huge thing for us – some people don't understand, but at the end of the day, if they didn't have work and you're getting them a job, that's life-changing for them. It's definitely not something to be scoffed at because it's huge for some people."
It goes back to the idea of the Tradestaff family that governs how Sally and the team work with their candidates.
"We think, 'Well, what if they were your family members – how would you feel about how they're being treated?' At Tradestaff, we look after our guys."
Whether you're a Kiwi or from overseas, the Christchurch region has plenty of opportunities for people looking for construction, labour and trade jobs. Get in touch with Sally and the team to find out what's on offer, and join the Tradestaff family.
almost 4 years ago by Will Percy