Job vacancies on the rise
A report from TradeMe shows job listings on the West Coast have risen by 42 percent over the past year.
“The jump in job listings on Trade Me, and fall in job applications, is in line with what we are seeing and hearing from local businesses. Many are struggling to fill both skilled and unskilled positions,” says Development West Coast Chief Executive Heath Milne.
“At a time when the region is experiencing a rise in demand for workers, we are facing labour shortages and an under-utilisation of our labour force.”
The West Coast is experiencing a boom in certain industries – such as our buoyant construction industry.
Workloads for the West Coast construction industry are growing significantly. The March quarter saw a 45.2% increase in residential consents and a 44.4% increase in non-residential consents on the West Coast, according to Infometrics.
“This is creating demand for more workers in construction and the trades,” says Mr Milne.
“Ironically we are also seeing demand for hospitality workers in certain locations. The reduction in migrant workers is making it difficult to find short term workers to meet seasonal demand changes.
“Our labour supply has taken a significant hit with the COVID related border closures.”
There has been a 22.7% decrease in migrant workers on Employer Assisted Temporary Work Visas on the West Coast for the year to April 2021, according to Immigration NZ.
“Although the West Coast is a great place to live and work, many businesses are struggling to attract talent due to the lack of houses to rent or buy here,” Mr Milne says.
“DWC, as the regional economic development agency, is looking at ways to increase housing on the Coast. A project is underway to look at the best way for us to get involved.”
Unemployment levels on the Coast have dropped from 4.8% in 2019 to just 3.5% in March 2021. This is the lowest unemployment has been since 2009.
“At face value this looks good, but this figure only shows those with ‘no’ employment at all. It doesn’t take into account those who are ‘underemployed’ - people who have part-time employment but are seeking more work,” Mr Milne adds.
“Like the rest of the country, part-time employment growth is running well ahead of full-time employment growth. As a result, we are seeing more people signing up for Jobseeker support benefits.”
The number of Jobseeker recipients on the West Coast increased 27.3% for the year to March 2021.
“Employers are struggling to find the right workers, yet we have more and more people who are underemployed.
“There are a number of good initiatives on the West Coast aimed at addressing this disconnect.
“We highly recommend businesses tap into resources, such as DWC’s Upskill programme and the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, to help recruit, train and upskill employees to ensure they have the right skills needed in the workplace.”