Home building more important than ever

Oct 6, 2021

The need for adequate housing has become more important than ever with New Zealanders being asked to live, work, play and school their children from home in recent weeks.

“With the current outbreak of COVID-19, the importance of having a home that is safe, warm, dry and has enough space for everyone in the household has come into sharp focus recently,” says Alan Thorp, Group CEO, Habitat for Humanity New Zealand.

The need for housing is in the spotlight in New Zealand and around the globe. Habitat for Humanity’s latest international report “A Ladder Up: The construction sector’s role in creating jobs and rebuilding emerging market economies”, was released earlier this week to mark World Habitat Day on October 4. A major finding was the construction industry – led by homebuilding – is a large, often-overlooked source of jobs in emerging market economies employing from 4% to 11% in the nine countries examined. Every USD$1 million in construction output creates an average of 97 jobs in emerging markets. That compares to 81 jobs created per USD$1 million in agricultural output and 96 jobs per USD$1 million in output in the accommodation and food services sector, according to the report commissioned by Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter. The report focused on nine countries: Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, and Uganda.

In New Zealand, however, the construction sector faces different challenges to those identified in Habitat’s global report, with the construction industry being only one part of the housing crisis puzzle that needs to be resolved says Mr Thorp. “Without a construction sector that is well resourced and able to deliver more homes at pace and scale, we will struggle to make headway.”

Julien Leys, Executive Director, Construction Strategy Group says in 2020 the construction industry contributed over $16.6 billion to New Zealand’s GDP and employed over 170,000 workers, yet 25,000 more workers are needed.
“Like Habitat, we increasingly see the impact of COVID on our sector, which was already facing challenges prior to the pandemic. The need for more skilled construction workers, including women, to meet the pipeline of projects for the sector is critical.

“New Zealand’s construction sector is also dealing with the rising cost of building materials and significant delays due to the disruption of global logistics,” says Mr Leys.