News Item

Paul’s pledge to Pacific workers

Industry Advice 5 Oct 2018

As Vice Chairman of the New Zealand Pacific Business Council (NZPBC), Paul Pledge is driven to provide as many employment opportunities to Pacific people in the region as possible.

Originally from the northern county of Yorkshire in the United Kingdom with a background as an Engineering Specialist Recruiter and a Branch Manager with large recruiters in the UK, Paul has been in the sector for more than a decade. He joined the Tradestaff team in 2011 and was soon promoted to the position of Area Manager. Paul’s experience has been instrumental in starting and growing Tradestaff Global, Tradestaff’s international business.

The organisation supplies labour to Pacific nations, spanning everything from small jobs for a single person to large construction projects with over 100 Tradestaff Global workers on site at any given time. Tradestaff Global supplies labour to 15 Pacific nations

“On any one day, we’ll have tradespeople in eight or nine countries including carpenters, plumbers, electricians, white collar roles and anything in between.

“Tradestaff have also been involved in a couple of pilot schemes. Last year we brought in semi-skilled carpenters from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji to work in Christchurch,” he says.

“Our latest program working with MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment) is to bring Pacific workers into Auckland to fill skills shortages. Our team has recently been in Samoa, Tonga and the Solomon Islands interviewing potential staff.”

Paul describes it as a ‘win-win’ for both parties.

“Almost half of all Tonga’s GDP (46%) come from remittances, which is a massive boost to the local economy,” he says.

“By employing Pacific workers and upskilling them, they can come and work in New Zealand for significantly higher wages than they’d earn in Tonga. We kit them out with tools and they generally leave with a formal trade qualification. The money they’ve earned can go a long way.”

He welcomes more workers from the Pacific to fill skills gaps in New Zealand, particularly smaller nations such as Tuvalu and Kiribati, whose way of life is becoming increasingly vulnerable due to climate change.

“I’d love to help smaller Pacific nations in our own back yard, because I know the impact it has in our region,” he says.

He says a NZPBC event is a great opportunity to network.

“Working in the Pacific, you encounter some weird and wonderful challenges,” he says.

“You’ll often get an enquiry that initially seems strange or a bit obscure, but after doing some digging, you find that it’s actually common among members. And being in such social situations often reveals what’s actually going on. Besides sharing knowledge, you’re building relationships and making friends.

"Those alone make being a member of the New Zealand Pacific Business Council worthwhile.”