NZ suffers jobs decline for first time in a decade

Here’s what HR leaders can do to utilise those hardest hit

NZ suffers jobs decline for first time in a decade

New Zealand has experienced a decline in jobs for the first time in a decade, new statistics reveal.

Women and young people have been hit hardest by the slump as the country reeled from the economic effect of COVID-19.

The data by Statistics NZ show a 0.1 decline in the number of overall jobs, with the tourism, hospitality and manufacturing industries bearing the brunt.

Speaking to HRD, Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen said the research shows New Zealand’s labour market has been resilient overall, but certain sectors are continuing to feel the impact of closed international borders.

“We are starting to see the dip from tourism becoming much more acute over these summer months,” he said.

“This is often when tourism operators will hire a lot more people, the same as hospitality and accommodation providers. They're not hiring nearly as many people, in fact their workforces is down quite a bit from where it would normally be.”

Read more: Tourism businesses focus on staff retention

The decline in tourism and hospitality jobs has been particularly hard on young workers who may struggle to enter the workforce in alternative sectors due to a perceived lack of experience.

Similarly, women who have had to prioritise caretaking roles throughout the pandemic may have been forced away from the workplace.

“What's most concerning though is that young people, women and in particular young females have been the hardest hit throughout the pandemic,” Olsen said.

“Certainly, over the last few months, that hit has become even greater and exacerbated the decline for young people and young females as businesses have had to readjust the workforce.”

Younger workers are often first out of the door during a restructure and then may struggle to re-enter the workforce.

But by actively focusing on these groups, HR leaders can harness a huge pool of ambitious and eager talent.

Young workers often bring innovative thinking, a willingness to learn and are more likely to become invested in a company if they’re hired at a young age.

Read more: Jobs market report reveals Australia’s top career switching industries

There has been a push towards hiring based on skills and values, rather than years of experience, and it is this type of thinking that Olsen says will level the playing field for younger jobseekers.

New Zealand’s economy is changing, with an emergence in sectors like tech, but employers need to think differently about how they recruit.

“In terms of the sort of work that Kiwis are doing and what we require as an economy, there is a real need to elevate as we try and change the economy and shift positions,” Olsen said.

“Young people have a really clear advantage as they're coming in with some great ideas and less of an institutional mindset as to how things should be.”

Olsen said it’s vital for employers to think about the types of workers they want now and in the future.

Similarly, flexible ways of working offer another key method to enabling women to return to the workforce.

Looking to the future, Olsen said he expects the jobs market to hold up better than predicted.

Compared to the GFC, employers have benefitted from the government’s wage subsidy scheme which has enabled them to retain or redeploy staff.

Olsen said employers have been far more innovative, for example reducing hours rather than cutting staff, and it has set businesses up for a stronger post-pandemic recovery.

Recent articles & video

WeWork CEO: 'Least engaged' staff prefer WFH

How to legally terminate redundant employees

Fun Friday: Are we a team – or a family?

Māori Party's Rāwiri Waititi kicked out of parliament for performing haka

Most Read Articles

Budget 2021: Australia’s 30% video game tax offset will be ‘disastrous’ for NZ

More workers are keeping mum – here's why

Trans-Tasman travel bubble ‘shakes up’ recruitment between Australia and New Zealand