Job-hunters looking for work in Auckland will continue to face tough times but opportunities in Christchurch and Wellington are on the rise, a survey of hiring intentions has found.
The report by recruitment agency Hudson on employment and HR trends found 23.7 per cent of businesses nationally wanted to increase permanent staff in the second quarter of 2012, up 5.8 percentage points on the previous quarter.
But most of the increase is driven by the rebuilding of Christchurch with 53.6 per cent of South Island businesses planning to increase staff in the next three months.
Hudson NZ executive general manager Roman Rogers said the South Island increase was the highest level of sentiment ever seen from the region in the 12-year history of the survey.
"It reflects a Canterbury rebuild effort which is finally starting to take shape, despite continued aftershocks and delays."
Rogers said he expected the number of jobs in Christchurch to continue to grow.
"We haven't seen the height of it yet."
However the news was not so positive for the Auckland region with hiring intentions up just 1.1 percentage points to 14.7 per cent for the upper North Island.
Rogers said many businesses were still feeling the tension between needing to manage costs and needing to invest in their business in order to grow.
"This is being demonstrated in cautious hiring intentions during the first half of 2012."
Rogers said confidence was growing in Auckland but it had yet to be reflected in job growth and it was difficult to predict when it was going to pick up.
The research found sentiment in the lower North Island was strong with 26.3 per cent of employers wanting to hire more staff - up by 12.3 percentage points.
Despite Government cutbacks it seems the public sector still intends to increase staff. "One in five government employers has told us that they're going to increase headcount - there seems to be a drive to get key projects completed before reforms get underway," Rogers said.
Information technology was the most buoyant sector with 43.3 per cent of companies intending to increase staff.
The construction/property and engineering sectors remained steady at 36.1 per cent while education was at 29.1 per cent and financial services at 18.2 per cent. The sentiment of medium-sized businesses picked up 9.4 percentage points to 29 per cent while large companies improved 3.9 percentage points to 21.2 per cent.
Hiring intentions for contracting staff were up slightly to 9.7 per cent but remained relatively low, Rogers said.
"In many cases, businesses are finding that bringing in a wider variety of specialist skills for shorter time periods is the best way to complete complex projects and transformations in aggressive timeframes."
But hiring intentions for contract staff were particularly low in the upper North Island at -2.4 per cent, with more employers planning to decrease than increase staff numbers.
Percentage of firms intending to hire permanent staff in three months to June 30
* Upper North Island: 14.7 per cent
* Lower North Island: 26.3 per cent
* South Island: 53.6 per cent
* National: 23.7 per cent
Strong demand for IT staff
The number of advertised vacancies in the first quarter of this year was 18 per cent higher than a year ago, with information technology once again featuring strongly, according to Trade Me Jobs.
This followed a 21 per cent increase seen in the fourth quarter of 2011, Trade Me Jobs said in an analysis of more than 39,000 roles advertised on its online trading platform.
Advertised wages and salaries dropped by 0.2 per cent, compared with a strong quarter in 2011.
"Employers' confidence remains on tenterhooks with the economy in a weaker state than many predicted, and demand for skilled workers is softening," said Pete Ashby, who heads Trade Me Jobs.
"There is constant demand for IT people and we have seen that as a common theme throughout 2011 and now 2012," Ashby said. "The same could be said for engineering, accounting and healthcare."
Information technology also featured strongly in Trade Me Jobs' analysis of pay rates. The highest advertised pay rate was for an average salary of $125,505. Among the lowest-paid were kitchen staff, with a salary average of $33,009.
Ashby said rebuilding in Christchurch was driving strong growth in construction and architecture, and trade and services roles, with listings up 65 per cent and 47 per cent respectively on a year ago.
There was an increase in job listings in the three major metropolitan centres, but Canterbury showed explosive growth, with advertised roles up 81 per cent compared with a year ago.
Wellington and Auckland were stagnant with job listing growth below the national average, up 3 per cent and 4 per cent respectively.