NZIER report flags skilled labour shortage amid construction boom

But the country’s skills shortage is getting worse

NZIER report flags skilled labour shortage amid construction boom

New Zealand’s Institute of Economic Research has released promising survey results which show the country’s employment is on track for recovery.

The latest NZIER Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion found that while profitability remains low, increased certainty about the future is giving employers more confidence to increase headcounts.

While it is good news for New Zealand, the Institute also warned that the skills shortage is becoming more acute – particularly for skilled labour roles.

Among those surveyed 43% reported difficulty in finding skilled labour, which is a return to the shortage level New Zealand was experiencing before the pandemic.

“A net 15% of firms are planning to increase headcount in the next quarter, while 10% of firms are looking to invest in plant and machinery,” NZIER said.

“These results indicate a recovery in employment and business investment over 2021.”

In particular, the construction sector is seeing a boom in demand thanks to an increase in residential, non-residential and Government construction projects.

Read more: NZ suffers jobs decline for first time in a decade

Building sector firms are hiring to keep up with the labour demand, signalling strong business confidence for the industry.

Other businesses are still cautious about the speed of recovery despite slight increases in demand across most sectors.

The survey found 16% of businesses expect a deterioration in general economic conditions over the coming months, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

That figure is far lower than the 38% in the previous quarter, and well below the 68% of businesses feeling pessimistic in March 2020.

While business confidence is up, the border closures will continue to exacerbate the country’s skills shortage.

Read more: Reopenings will create thousands of jobs we’ve never seen before

Around 2,000 people from the Pacific region are set to arrive in New Zealand over the next few months to help farmers with seasonal work.

The Recognised Seasonal Employment scheme will see workers flown in from countries like Samoa, which has had no reported COVID-19 cases since late last year.

Those arriving in NZ will spend 14-days in managed isolation before travelling to other parts of the country to begin work.

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