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Contributing to Christchurch

It won't be a quick fix - it simply can't be - but if this Government is smart, they will precipitate fast learning programmes to provide the "local" resource to fast-track the reconstruction.

Nothing could have prepared us for what has happened in both Christchurch and Japan, let alone the anticipated further fall-out we have yet to see. Whilst we are intimately connected to the international community and will feel the effect of Japan, our focus and priority has to be local and fixing our own "neighbourhood" first.

Christchurch. We know from the media and social media the physical and emotional effect and the "estimate" of what's needed to fix and function again, but even then, we all know the goalposts will continue to shift over the coming months and years. Money and materials are needed, but so is the right labour force to bring it all together.

So what is the real impact of the Christchurch Earthquake. Whilst there's been headlines like 40,000 people being out of work, the reality is that won't happen. We have been told that Canterbury contributes 15% to our national economy. I heard a figure the other day that 77% of Canterbury economy is unaffected. So that means that only 23% of the 15%, or just under 3.5% is the real figure, rather than 15% - that's if all those figures interrelate. On one hand people will lose jobs - there's no question about that as businesses either close or don't re-open - but others will open in response to what's happened and hopefully pick up the people who are available. Others will do what's needed to find work, as they have done after the Pike River disaster, whether that be moving to other areas of the country, or overseas, in particular Australia.

It's inevitable that jobless numbers will rise in the coming months, and there will be a misalignment between supply and demand as an adjustment occurs with the available and required skills. On one hand we'll be screaming out for workers in the "hard-to-find" categories, on the other we'll be lamenting about those who can't find work as well. It won't be a quick fix - it simply can't be - but if this Government is smart, they will precipitate fast learning programmes to provide the "local" resource to fast-track the reconstruction. How this is done will either inhibit or precipitate the rebuild. Supporting this, skills will need to be brought in and this will put pressure elsewhere as particular skills sets descend on Christchurch and create greater shortages in other centres. This will force labour prices up, just as it already has in Canterbury. Basic economics - supply and demand. Just one example are people with insurance industry claims backgrounds - try and find anyone available currently!

And then there are those I term "the somewhat forgotten" - the people who are leaving Canterbury for good. Probably those who will find it hardest to secure work will be the blue collar brigade, general labour, the semi-skilled, and recent graduates. There's already pressure nationally in these categories and the additional people will probably push this sector of unemployment up higher than the national average in the short-term. But the professional areas, and those where traditionally there are shortages of high demand skills, should immediately "slurp up" those exiting Christchurch seeking work.

Our contribution? We'd like to help those who have been "displaced" - those people seeking work in other centres. But we can only handle and help those in our category - professional and/or $60K plus. If you are one of those people or know anyone, send them our way. And if we place them in a job, we'll donate a minimum of 50% of our fee to the Red Cross Appeal to help those they have left behind.

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