Campaign launched to attract 20,000 construction workers to NZ

New Zealand construction companies are desperately searching overseas for enough builders to fill a shortage of home-grown candidates.

Hoping to attract 20,000 construction professionals, the Look See Build NZ campaign is supported by NZ Immigration and offers a range of traditional Kiwi experiences to help lure the foreigners here next year.

The offshore hopefuls can register for the scheme and, if shortlisted, they'll be flown here in February for interviews and their choice of adventure, including a Black Caps cricket test, a Maori cultural performance in Rotorua, surfing at Raglan, fishing on the Hauraki Gulf, bungee jumping at Queenstown and wine-tasting on Waiheke Island.

Registered Master Builders chief executive David Kelly admits his industry has failed to train enough local apprentices to fill the void that currently exists.

"There is that issue of not training enough people," he admitted on The AM Show. "But there's an underlying problem and that's the boom/bust nature of the industry.

"We have these exaggerated swings and while you're training people - if you think about apprentices - they still have to have employment in the meantime.

"If the employers haven't got the confidence they have the work now, then they won't take [apprentices] on."

Mr Kelly was confident the shortfall could be topped up with skilled workers from the United Kingdom, Europe and North America.

"It's not just builders," he said. "It's also engineers, project managers, project directors, quantity surveyors… there's a range of opportunities.

"That's where the businesses need to step up, and show they're going to be good employers and provide a good career. 

"New Zealand is an attractive place to come and work. Some of these people may be permanent migrants, but others may say 'I'd be really interested in three or four years, living in New Zealand and getting experience'."