Dunedin’s loss could soon be South Canterbury’s gain.
Staff affected by the closure of the Cadbury plant in Dunedin have shown interest in moving north to the Timaru district following the recent Cadbury employment expo.
Job opportunities, housing and education were among the topics discussed at the event, held in Dunedin on Saturday.
Aoraki Development was among 50 exhibitors at the expo, ranging from businesses, tertiary institutions and recruitment agencies.
Operations manager Di Hay said relocating to the Timaru district appeared to be a realistic and attractive option for many Cadbury staff who will lose their jobs when the Dunedin plant shuts down early next year.
“We had three Aoraki Development staff there and from the moment the doors opened at 10am through to closing at 3pm, we were all flat out handling inquiries from people who wanted to know about jobs available in Timaru district,” she said.
Cadbury staff attended the event armed with copies of their CVs to give to prospective employers.
Further copies were brought back by Aoraki Development staff to pass on to businesses.
Barkers Fruit Processors, Oceania Dairy and Ara were among the companies represented at the expo, along with Fonterra, Alliance and Silver Fern Farms, which had stands representing their various plants.
“There was interest in Timaru jobs from across the spectrum of their staff, [from] machine operators, supervisors, quality staff, industrial engineers and industrial electricians,” Ms Hay said.
“Once we started talking to people it was surprising how many were prepared to leave Dunedin and saw Timaru as a nearby, realistic option.
“They asked about house prices, rental properties, schools and what it would be like for their families if they shifted.
“For many, it seemed as though the reality was really sinking in that their jobs are finishing and it’s a pretty scary prospect. There are not many options for them in Dunedin.”
The first group of staff are due to lose their jobs on November 22, while others are expected to finish on December 23.
The total to finish up this year is about 250.
A further 100 staff are due to finish in February and March next year.
“Ultimately, it’s a big decision for the Cadbury staff and some have worked for the company for more than 20 years,” Ms Hay said.
“They have to move families, leave their friends behind and start afresh and while the attraction of a good job in Timaru district is important, they need to feel that they’re making the right decision and it’s a good place to be.”