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Job booms in regional New Zealand

The number of job vacancies in New Zealand’s regional centres jumped markedly in the past quarter of 2017 as job vacancies in the metropolitan regions of Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury declined.

Jeremy Wade, head of online advertising portal, Trade Me Jobs, said the drop in job ads for the metro centres was likely explained by a desire by employers to “tread softly” following last year’s federal election which saw the Labour party sweep into office ousting the incumbent National Government.

In the last three months of 2017, a total of 68,000 job vacancies were posted on Trade Me Jobs.

Wade said the regional areas of Southland, Otago, Hawke’s Bay, Waikato and Marlborough all recorded solid double ­digit growth in new listings year-­on-­year in Q4, along with a small increase in average pay.

For the same period, new listings in Auckland fell by 2.8 per cent, were down 1.6 per cent in Wellington and dipped 1 per cent in Canterbury.

“Despite the benign growth of new listings in the main centres we’d still expect to see some wage growth given the skill shortage,” Wade explained. “However, at a national level the average pay was relatively flat in the final quarter of 2017, down 0.2 per cent on last year to $60,441.

“Even after some encouraging wage growth in the previous two quarters, it’s surprising to see such little movement in pay. We’d expect employers to be digging deeper into their pockets to secure the best candidates.”

Job applications drop

Wade said the New Zealand employment market continued to be candidate-driven with the average number of applications per role down 15 per cent on last year, and down 5.8 per cent on the previous quarter.

He said applications in Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury decreased by 17 per cent, 10 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.

“This decline in applications is a clear indicator that the job landscape is favouring job hunters, especially anyone looking for a role in transport and logistics or manufacturing and operations where new listings are up more than 21 per cent.

“With less competition and high demand for skilled workers, January is a great time to dust off your CV if you’re considering making your next career move.”

Sectors a mixed bag

Wade said that of the 26 sectors on Trade Me Jobs, half of them recorded a year-on-year increase in advertised job vacancies including:

  • Manufacturing and operations sector (up 28.5 per cent)

  • Transport and logistics (up 21.2 per cent)

  • Agriculture (20.7 per cent)

“Retail, hospitality and sales have all been performing strongly in 2017, but dipped sharply in the final quarter of 2017, with new listings down 12 per cent, 2.8 per cent and 12 per cent respectively,” Wade said.

IT roles continue to be the highest paid roles on Trade Me Jobs, taking out the top four spots with project managers topping the list with an average pay of $142,143.

Wages growth was flat in Auckland and Wellington while Auckland City remained the highest earning area with an average pay of $72,383 followed by Wellington at $69,787.

The average pay was down 0.3 per cent in Auckland City year­-on-­year, and up just 0.3 per cent in the capital, Wade said.

“With a shortage of talent, flat wage growth and the increasing cost of living, employers in the main metros will be under more pressure in 2018 to secure talent and as a result we expect average pay to increase,” Wade has forecast.

Predictions for 2018

Wade said one of the biggest issues facing New Zealand’s employment market this year will continue to be the skills shortage.

“We expect to see the skill shortage worsen this year as the tightening on immigration will likely leave employers with little choice but to improve salary packages to lure talent,” Wade said. “As a result, the ball is in the job hunter’s court and skilled workers can expect to see better offers dangled in front of them.”

Wade said small businesses are likely to slow their hiring rates in 2018 and while replacing core people will continue to be important, he is predicting cutbacks on discretionary hiring.

“We know there will be a flow­ on from the concerns around the increase to the minimum wage,” he said. “Employment law changes to the 90­ day trial period and the proposed Fair Pay Agreements are also set to have a significant impact on employers.”

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