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Consents exceed $ 223 million in Manawatū as construction industry faces skills shortage

By on June 22, 2021 0
Countdown's new distribution center on Alderson Dr contributes significantly to the record $ 223.3 million in non-residential permits issued in Manawatū in the 12 months to March, an 82% increase from the previous year.

WARWICK SMITH / Stuff

Countdown’s new distribution center on Alderson Dr contributes significantly to the record $ 223.3 million in non-residential permits issued in Manawatū in the 12 months to March, an 82% increase from the previous year.

Manawatū’s construction boom continues to accelerate, but with rapid growth comes the risk of pushing the region’s construction industry to its limits.

The Central Economic Development Agency’s quarterly economic update found that Manawatū had a record $ 223.3 million in non-residential permits approved in the 12 months to March, an 82% increase from the previous March. ‘last year.

“Construction is moving fast and provides confidence that we will come out of the economic downturn,” said Peter Crawford, economic adviser to Palmerston North City Council.

However, persistent labor and supply shortages meant that busy Manawat construction industry could struggle to keep up with demand.

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The biggest contributors to the record were $ 88 million worth of storage buildings in Palmerston North, as the city’s logistics and distribution sector grew, along with a few large-scale projects. .

“The biggest project contributing to this increase is the new Countdown distribution center, and secondly the new hangers and other facilities. [being built] in Ōhakea prior to the transfer of Air Force personnel to the region in 2023, ”Crawford said.

Residential consents were also booming. In the first three months of the year, there were 17% more approvals than the 174 in the first quarter of 2020.

Townhouses and the strong growth in the senior housing industry were the driving force on this front, with the number of townhouses receiving consent increasing by 40%.

Sara Towers, head of talents and skills at the Central Economic Development Agency, said the rapid growth was a sign of a thriving regional economy, but put additional pressure on the construction industry to find skilled workers.

Manawatū has entered its most active construction period in four decades, with $ 1.5 billion in construction and development projects on the cards over a 10-year period, which began in 2017.

Towers said that although the shortage of professional skills had been a national problem for much longer than that, it had not been so bad in Manawatū.

“[The boom] surprised us … I don’t think anyone predicted this level of growth [in our construction industry] before it starts.

CEDA's head of talents and skills, Sara Towers, said the rapid growth in building permits will put more pressure on Manawatū's construction industry, which already faces a skills shortage.

DAVID UNWIN / Tips

CEDA’s head of talents and skills, Sara Towers, said the rapid growth in building permits will put more pressure on Manawatū’s construction industry, which already faces a skills shortage.

Towers said the agency was working with industry groups, such as the Building and Construction Industry Training Organization, to boost recruitment and apprenticeship in the trades and attract skilled workers from other regions.

He also negotiated a partnership between the National Drivers Center, Talent Central and the Central Skills Hub earlier this year to help young hires prepare for work, based on the foundational skills that employers said were lacking. promising apprentices.

Towers said these efforts would take years to bear fruit, and some specialties, such as painters and gib-stoppers, have relied on migrant workers to bridge the gap.

“But these workers are harder to find since the international borders were closed.”

Palmerston North developer Brian Green said another challenge in meeting high demand was supply shortages.

Basic items such as trusses, frames, hardware, and accessories were all scarce.

Green said part of this was due to the pandemic’s disruption to international trade, but the big problem was that most of the products in short supply were made in China – and those manufacturers were skipping shipments to New Zealand.

They could make more money by sending bigger container ships to Australia and straight to America, rather than using smaller ships that could call at New Zealand ports.