As government statistics show the unemployment rate remains around 3.2%, employers are in the media saying they can’t find employees, while employees take to social media to decry the lack of jobs or conflicts caused by mandates. Yet, Shopless is reporting continual increases in the number of vacancies advertised, so has set out to analyse why there is so much contention around the viability of the Aotearoa New Zealand job market, and what it
means in real terms. See the spike in job listings that caused this analysis.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) gathers data to ascertain employment vacancies from four sites: Seek, Trade Me Jobs, Education Gazette and Kiwi Health. Yet, no data includes social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn as a valid source for advertising vacancies, or alternative sites that list job vacancies such as Shopless or even the WINZ “Keep New Zealand Working” facility. Yet, this limited range of sources provides the data that influences decisions made by departments including the Reserve Bank of NZ, MBIE, Treasury and MSD.
This variation in where employees post vacancies, and where employees find jobs provides clues for why there are varying opinions around the true work situation in New Zealand. With Shopless seeing an increasing number of vacancies listed each day, it makes sense that they would want to use the data they are seeing and delve more into what the New Zealand job market is genuinely like for the average New Zealander.
Are Managers and Professionals in Most Demand?
MBIE data shows that biggest areas of growth are management and professional workers. However, with “professional” being a huge category covering everyone with a tertiary qualification, this category includes teachers, electricians, neurosurgeons, and film animators.
The issue with gaining accurate data for these industries is that vacancies are filled through a variety of means. While the education and healthcare sectors have set policies for filling professional positions, it would seem the more trade based professional positions are still filled through word of mouth.
Anecdotally there are fewer job applications for each vacancy, particularly in the education and health sectors. The Education Review Office (ERO) conducted a survey that found that the well-being of permanent educators has declined, with the greatest effect being on staff in Auckland. Yet, teacher turnover throughout New Zealand was decreasing until COVID and MBIE has stated that “entry to this profession has become very competitive with supply outstripping demand. This situation is unlikely to change significantly during the next five years.”
Experienced healthcare workers in demand, but is the outlook bleak for admin staff?
Meanwhile the healthcare system continues to struggle to find staff, and regional towns continue to bear the brunt of the lack of trained and qualified staff. International medical graduates (IMGs) represent 42.1% of doctors on the NZ Medical Board register, and with border restrictions in place for two years, this has not allowed the normal steady growth in this area. New Zealand continues to struggle to have enough mental health professionals,
which is partially due to the intensive training requirements and limited number of positions available in universities. This means that IMGs represent over 62% of hires in Psychiatric fields.
MBIE notes that “job prospects for personal/executive assistants are limited as employment is projected to decrease.” However, MBIE also suggests that these administrator vacancies are either advertised directly through a business, advertised on TradeMe Jobs, or Seek –
which ignores the number of positions filled via alternative methods, including word of mouth.
Within the construction industry a quick glance at the jobs advertised through MBIE suggested sites shows only trade recruiters, so may not be an accurate reflection of actual jobs available. While there is high demand for construction work, issues around reduced supply chain for building materials may cause underutilisation and staff cutbacks.
While the overall state of employment in New Zealand is positive, for those in small businesses or industries strongly effected by changing spending habits due to COVD, the future is not certain. While MBIE online job data still shows a steady increase in vacancies, the decline in vacancies filled through Seek and TradeMe jobs may see small and medium businesses turning away from expensive recruitment options and changing their
recruitment strategy to be more targeted. When this occurs, we should expect to see a reported drop in online job vacancies that may simply be government sources not keeping up with a change in where New Zealanders are looking for jobs.