Newly released figures show the number of job vacancies has grown nationwide, but local industries are struggling to fill key specialised roles.
Andy Cameron, owner of Oasis Engineering, said difficulty finding qualified engineers was not new: "I've been in business for 10 years and I've had this problem for 10 years."
Government job-support website Careers NZ shows there are skills shortages for key jobs nationwide.
The website matches jobs on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skills shortage list - created to attract skilled migrants to fill skill shortages - against specific job listings on Trade Me.
Of the 1601 listings highlighted by Careers NZ, automotive electricians, civil engineers and nurses/midwives are in greatest demand.
Of the 487 jobs listed on Trade Me in the Bay of Plenty region, 52 are for engineers, 23 for chefs, 11 for nurses and three for auto electricians.
Mr Cameron said he had recently taken on his 13th engineering apprentice since opening.
"Of those guys who've finished their time with us, we've kept seven of them."
Some newly qualified engineers were lured to Australia by cheaper housing and higher wages.
"Especially if you're prepared to go out into the middle of nowhere, [the pay] is quite good."
Apprentices were less productive and eroded the productivity of other workers who had to train them, Mr Cameron said.
Harper Smith director Paddy Shaw, whose company hires engineering staff on behalf of other firms, said there were few engineering management jobs in the Bay of Plenty but a lot in Christchurch and Auckland at the moment. "Tauranga's not renowned for having large amounts of industrial manufacturing," he said.
"It's a funny market, the Bay of Plenty. Because it's such a highly sought-after place to live, people tend to hold on to their jobs for a lot longer.
"They tend to stick it out here because the lifestyle's great, so they tend to stick it out even though they could earn more elsewhere," he said.
Meanwhile, new data from job-search website Seek this week revealed growing activity from job seekers last month. Seek New Zealand general manger Janet Faulding said the increase in job applications was in line with recent Seek data, which showed more New Zealanders were looking for jobs.
"Our research shows that 43 per cent of Kiwis are intending to secure a new job in the next 12 months, so this rise in applications is not unexpected.
"There has been an uncertainty during the economic downturn and a sense that job seekers are keeping their heads down, however at Seek we're seeing a steady growth in applications."
While Seek's data showed no significant increase in advertised job vacancies in the last month, they were up 6.5 per cent year-on-year. Seek's data also showed a jump in job applications.
"The market is showing signs of slow but steady recovery, and job seekers are actively applying for jobs," Ms Faulding said.
"It is encouraging to see the market is being stimulated by supply and demand in both directions."
Though new job listings were on the rise in some specialised industries, applications have been flooding in for a limited number of positions in retail, administration, and call-centre roles.
Evolution Clothing retail manager Rachel McIntyre said there was no shortage of applicants for a permanent part-time retail assistant for the Mount Maunganui store. She said she had received about 50 CVs for the one job.
"We've just been getting CVs through every day.
"There's so many good CVs coming through, we're spoilt for choice."
Ms McIntyre said the business regularly received CVs for people seeking work, even when it wasn't hiring. Applicants ranged from career women to school kids and university students. A lot of people were struggling to find retail jobs at the moment, she said.
The Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union held a "Jobs Crisis Summit" in Auckland yesterday.
More than 100 people including unionists and employers' groups discussed how to stop a decline in the manufacturing sector, with claims that 40,000 jobs had been lost in the past four years.
Green Party leader Russel Norman said manufacturing had been "decimated" under the National Government's watch.
"We urgently need to turn that around," he said.
Top FiveThe top five in-demand jobs which are hardest to fill:
1. IT consultants
2. Engineering managers
3. Local government personnel
4. Private-practice solicitors