Dylan Phillips, pictured with his wife Jenna and sons Boston, 3 and Hudson, 8 months, has started his own business after being made redundant. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Meeting the local job loss challenge


With job loss inevitable for many locals in the wake of Covid-19, some have already been forced to think outside the box, or search for work in other industries.

Dylan Phillips and his wife Jenna welcomed their son Hudson into the family just 8 months ago.

He joined 3-year-old brother Boston, with Dylan promising his wife she could stay at home with the kids for as long as she wanted to.

So, when news of redundancies broke at Air New Zealand, where he currently works as a structural composite engineer at Nelson’s maintenance facility, it threw a spanner in the works.

“It was pretty hard,” Dylan says. “I looked over my bills and started to look at options like getting an apprenticeship and retraining to do something else. But with a young family, reality kicked in that I really couldn’t afford to do that at the moment.”

So, Dylan instead decided to start his own business, Dylan Phillips Fibreglass Repairs.

With eight years’ experience and having called Nelson home for most of his life, he expects the demand to be “pretty strong”.

“I’m hoping to do a lot of work on paddleboards and things like that, as well as boats, motorhomes and surfboards.”

Dylan’s move comes as the Government announces that full-time workers who lost their job because of the economic impact of Covid-19 will be eligible for tax-free weekly payments of almost $500 a week for a period of 12 weeks.

It is expected to cost the Government about $570 million.

It will be welcome news to many, with the Nelson region seeing requests for benefit payments skyrocket over the Covid-19 lockdown period.

There was an almost 500 percent increase of requests on the same time last year.

This time last year, only 267 people claimed assistance, however, during the lockdown period, 1586 claimed it – an increase of 496 percent.

Meanwhile, chief operating officer of Nelson-based Sealord Group, Doug Paulin, says job loss in the region has also changed their employee landscape.

“Traditionally, Sealord recruits 80 percent of hoki season workers from overseas on travelling holiday visas.”

He says this year was totally different and early on in the recruitment process they had been having difficulties filling roles for hoki season, Sealord’s busiest time of the year, due to a lack of seasonal workers travelling to New Zealand.

A campaign was launched both locally and country-wide recruiting for those already here.

“This year, due to Covid-19, all 1300 applicants were already based in New Zealand. About 420 of those were from Nelson Tasman.”

Doug says 52 of those locals had been laid off from their jobs.

Dylan Phillips says he did give thought to looking for another job but the places he went to were not in a position to take on any extra permanent staff.

“So, being self-employed I might be able to contract to them during their busier times, but I’m just focussing on building up a nice client base at the moment.”

He says, through Facebook, he has been able to drum up enough interest to keep him busy on the weekends, as he is still working at Air New Zealand until later this year.