Monday, 11th December, 2017

The Marlborough Chamber of Commerce has released a report showing the region will need approximately 3,600 more workers by 2020 to support economic growth – but says until immigration and affordable housing issues are addressed the region faces acute labour supply shortages.

The ‘Solving Marlborough’s Demographic Challenges’ report, commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), is a response by the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce to identify issues facing the region in addressing labour challenges.

“Marlborough is placed at the top of MBIE’s employment growth rate list over the next few years due to our significant industries of wine and aquaculture. With an ageing population, attracting and retaining immigrants is now a commercial and economic imperative for the region” says Marlborough Chamber CEO Grant Kerr.

The report shows that one aspect of attracting skilled migrants to the region is to ensure there is a stock of affordable accommodation.

If Marlborough succeeds in attracting the low-end forecast of 2,100 new full-time employees by 2020, at a minimum, assuming there are two of these employees per household, the region will need more than 1,050 new houses within the next three years”.

“If we are serious about making Marlborough an attractive proposition for skilled migrants, creating affordable housing is an acute issue. We are calling on the Council to make more land available to develop mixed housing stock” says Grant.

 “The reality is that many of the workers we need to attract simply can’t afford a 4 bedroom-2 bathroom home in one of the new subdivisions. We’d like to see the Council work with developers to ensure there is a range of housing options available, which would help to alleviate the stress on the job market and attract more people”.

Chamber Board Member Khalid Suleiman is a Chartered Professional Engineer and at the coal face of development in Marlborough, and says the Council can encourage development by installing and upgrading services at a faster rate.

“The large areas rezoned to residential in the north of Blenheim in 2014 are yet to be provided services, and the larger parts of the rezoned area is not expected to be serviced for some time” says Khalid.

Another way to encourage immediate development, with no upfront cost to Council, is to remove the developer contributions to infill development (subdividing a single allotment from an existing property). “This would make this type of development more feasible and increase the density of the town, reducing the effects on services, including roading of sprawling development” says Khalid.

The report shows that at least 500 additional construction workers are required based on current growth forecast. If Council were to release more land to meet the demand of the number of houses required, even more construction workers will be required which will put further pressure on the accommodation market.

“We’ve only focused on the pressures on our two big industries. If we take into consideration all industries and sectors across the region, the issues become more concerning. The Chamber is keen to work with the Council and other parties, including central Government, to find a robust approach” says Grant.

The demographics report shows that Marlborough is uniquely placed ahead of other small regions in the country due to its forecasted employment growth greatly outstripping forecasted population growth, but it must campaign to attract skilled workers to show what the region has to offer with affordable housing being a big drawcard.

Read the full report ‘Solving Marlborough’s Demographic Challenges’.

For more information contact: Grant Kerr, 021 758 703.