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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 20 June, 2019

Three thousand Irish sought for Christchurch earthquake rebuild

One-third of the 25,000 workers needed in New Zealand could come from Ireland and the UK, a visa firm has said.

The cathedral in Christchurch destroyed by the earthquake
The cathedral in Christchurch destroyed by the earthquake
Image: Martin Hunter/AP/Press Association Images

AS MANY AS 3,000 skilled tradespeople could find jobs helping to rebuild Christchurch, New Zealand after it was shattered by an earthquake, a visa advice firm has said.

The country is set to spend €12billion on a huge reconstruction effort after the city was devastated and almost 200 people killed by a 6.3 magnitude quake in February, reports - though some have predicted the final spend will be as much as €18billion.

According to immigration advisers Migration Associates, 150,000 construction workers will be required over the next five years and there is an immediate need for 25,000 skilled tradespeople. The firm said it hopes to source one-third of those in Ireland and the UK, with 3,000 coming from here.

“Quality trades people across all sectors and construction professionals will be needed to complete the re-build of Christchurch,” immigration adviser Borey Chum said. He added that Irish people were seen as “highly desirable because of their English as first language status and relatively high skill levels.”

He said Migration Associates is currently working with one firm alone which requires a hundred carpenters. The rebuild effort will include roads, sewerage, water supply pipes and parks, with plumbers and stonemasons also in demand, Mr Chum added.

The country’s Earthquake Commission has previously said it is specifically seeking Irish workers due to their first-language English and our relatively high unemployment rate.

New Zealand visa rules are less stringent than Australia’s in some respects, with age limits for permanent residency capped at 55 rather than 45, and a lesser requirement for recent work experience – which could leave the door open for workers who have been unemployed in Ireland for some time. However, Mr Chum said anyone applying for permanent residency in New Zealand will need a firm job offer before putting in an application.

He continued: “We are hopeful we will source the desired number of 3,000 tradespeople in Ireland who will meet the criteria set down by the New Zealand government for temporary or permanent residency.”

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Michael Freeman

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