News Item

Construction job opportunities in NZ for Tongans

News 31 Jul 2018

New short term job opportunities in construction in New Zealand opened up for Tongans this week, when a recruitment team interviewed local applicants for a program starting in September.

The Pacific Trades Partnership Program expects to confirm job offers for skilled carpenters and hammerhands in a few weeks time.

The seven members of the program, led by officials from the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) with two employers from Downer and Tradestaff, interviewed and observed a practical assessment of around 25 applicants from July 24-26, at the Tonga Institute of Science and Technology.

Diana Loughnan, Relationship Manager, Pasifika Labour and Skills from MBIE said this is the second recruitment of the program, after recruiting 14 carpenters in Samoa, which they first visited a couple of weeks ago.

"From Tonga ideally we are looking to get around 15 and I do not know the outcome of the job offers now but it's looking quite promising." She said after the 12-months, employers can re-employ them for another stint in New Zealand, but the idea is to have them come home with their skills and money earned for their families and benefit the Tongan economy.

Meanwhile, Tonga's Ministry of Internal Affairs advertised the jobs in May-June and received around 54 applicants, who were shortlisted.

"Because New Zealand has strict immigration rules, we have to select candidates that will pass those requirements. We are looking for job offers here for hammerhands, with a minimum of 12-months work experience, while it's three-years for carpenters. Apart from that it's about doing well in these practical skills test and interviews. In addition, there is no age limit. If they are capable and hardworking they should give it a shot so we encourage more people from all walks of life to apply," she said.

The program is an extension of a pilot program called the Canterbury Reconstruction Program, from 2016 to 2017 where 24 workers were recruited with carpentry skills from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji. For Tonga, around eight got job offers but only one went.

Diana said for a variety of reasons the others who did not go to New Zealand had found better jobs in Tonga when their employer found out, while others had family commitments. However, the Tongan that went did very well. He returned to Tonga for a while but is working in Auckland now, she said.

"The pilot went really well, in which 19 were offered employment return and 23 out of the 24 gained New Zealand qualifications."


Meanwhile, Andy McCormick, a National Key Account Manager for Tradestaff, which has 12 branches in New Zealand said are looking for as many they can find during the Tonga recruitment.

"We got six out of Samoa for our company and so far this week, we would have to work with the other employer, we are looking at another eight or 10 we would employ out of Tonga," he said.

"We joined the program not only due to the shortage of skills in New Zealand but we also see this as a great opportunity for our Pacific neighbours to work and learn new skills, come back to Tonga and share those skills with families, villages and others for Tonga's development."

The program team who left Tonga on July 27, also included a member from ARA Institute of Canterbury who carried out the assessment of the recruitment process.

Source: Matangi Tonga