5 Aug 2021

Labour market predicted to be strong as immigration slows - recruiter

9:56 am on 5 August 2021

A student job recruiter says these are unprecedented times for the labour market, as youth unemployment drops and job listings soar.

Job advertisements have flattened out.

File photo. Photo: 123RF

The latest Stats NZ data shows unemployment of young people aged between 20 and 24 dropped from 10 percent in the March quarter to 6.3 percent in the June quarter.

But there are warnings the government should not let the foot off the accelerator when it comes to boosting work opportunities.

Student Job Search chief executive Suzanne Boyd said she had not seen a labour market like today's in her 20 years working in recruitment, with the total number of placements up 1200 for the quarter ending in June compared to pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels.

Boyd said there had been a big increase in vacancies for permanent roles across a number of industries - from hospitality and retail to engineering and graduate schemes.

"There really is a shortage for skilled and unskilled workers, in particular graduates who have a huge amount of experience in their specific field."

She was not expecting a slow down anytime soon.

"We believe the labour market will continue to be tight and there will continue to be a strong desire to hire permanent people because New Zealand is growing and we are not bringing in workers as we once were," she said.

"The number of graduate roles and internship roles we're registering are going up and the number of conversations we're having with employers are growing significantly."

Pathway to higher-skilled careers

Christchurch-based Tokona Te Raki: Māori Futures Collective aimed to help Ngāi Tahu rangatahi into education and employment.

Executive director Eruera Tarena called the decreased unemployment rate pleasing but said not all jobs were created equal.

"Many of those jobs, particularly for young people and particularly for Māori and Pasifika, are more like static jobs that offer low pay, have high turn over and don't typically lead into higher-skilled careers."

He thought the door from a job to a career needed to be held open for Māori and Pasifika youth.

"We need to think about how do we create pathways to those jobs that pay a decent living, that can create opportunities to support a whānau, progression and promotion, and are insulated to changes in the future of work."

Council of Trade Unions policy director Craig Renney urged the foot needed to stay on the accelerator as the economic impact of Covid-19 faded into the distance.

He said the government must continue with its active labour market programmes such as Mana in Mahi.

"We absolutely need to be making sure that we don't think our job is done here. We need to build on this momentum and make sure youth unemployment is as low as it can be, and it's certainly not there yet."

Infometrics economist Brad Olsen said the falling unemployment was a sign of a strong economy and tight labour market.

"Young people were the first cab off the rank last year when it did come to employers needing to cut staff. Now young people are getting a bit more of a foot in the door and a new opportunity as [businesses] struggle to find the staff that they need."

Olsen said young people would have good employment prospects going forward as migration continued to be low.

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