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Concerns skilled construction workers could be lost to 'trade drain' as trans-Tasman travel bubble opens


Australia has started the tourism campaign to get New Zealanders across the ditch for a holiday, but there are concerns some Kiwis aren’t just looking for a weekend away.

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Australia's building sector is experiencing a skills shortage just like New Zealand’s. Source: 1 NEWS

The Employers and Manufacturers Association is warning we could lose skilled construction workers across the Tasman.

“We've got a skills shortage here particularly in the construction sector,” said Alan McDonald, the EMA’s Advocacy & Strategy Head.

“Now we'll go to that fly-in, fly-out economy so we may start losing people across the Tasman.”

The construction sector is also booming in Australia, employing one in 10 people.

It’s forecast to keep growing for another five years.

1 NEWS spoke to Matt Sherman, the Sydney-based manager of MKGS Construction.

He said it was only a matter of time until some of New Zealand’s workers started heading to Australia.

“Construction's going to go up, there're more cranes in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane than anywhere in the world.”

Sherman says it’s a lot cheaper to work in the trades sector in Australia, which is a large part of the appeal.

"We need workers, we can only do so many jobs because of how many people want to work - and that's an Australian thing, right?”

So, how do you prevent the ‘trade drain’?

McDonald wants more ‘shovel ready’ projects to get underway in New Zealand, as a way to keep local talent here.

“Having more of our projects going instead of just waiting to go and in that planning stage that would help,” he said.