A tighter labour market in Tauranga has meant businesses are finding it harder to access employees with the right skill set despite more people being available to work, experts say.

Tauranga business leaders say there appeared to be a "mismatch" between the jobs available and people looking for work.

The Ministry of Social Development says an employment slowdown in construction and manufacturing had resulted in fewer entry-level jobs.

The comments come after Priority One's latest Infometrics report showed the average unemployment rate in Tauranga City was 3.8 per cent in the year to December 2018.


However, the number of unemployed people receiving a Jobseeker Support benefit in the city jumped 7.1 per cent, faster than the 4.8 per cent national growth.

An average of 3073 people received a Jobseeker Support benefit in Tauranga in the year to December 2018.

Priority One projects manager Annie Hill said businesses were finding it harder to access the right match of skilled and unskilled workers as the labour market tightened, despite there being more people available to work.

"Essentially businesses require skills that those looking for work may not have, meaning that although there are jobs available and there are workers available, they don't necessarily overlap."

Hill said the region's strong economic growth meant the health, construction, IT, engineering, accounting and legal, retail, horticulture and manufacturing sectors were struggling to find employees with the right skills.

There had been an increase in younger people seeking Jobseeker Support in Tauranga - 10 per cent more for 18 to 24-year-olds and 13 per cent for 25 to 39-year-olds in the past year, Hill said.

However, most only received the benefit for less than a year while they sought a new job or retrained.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said many employers were crying out for skilled and semi-skilled staff.


"[But] there appears to be a mismatch between what and where jobs are available, and people looking for work."

Gregec said the city's transport and affordability of accommodation was an issue for jobseekers.

"Tauranga is a very expensive place to live and get around."

1st Call Recruitment managing director Phill Van Syp said making the 90-day trial period only available to businesses with fewer than 20 staff as of May posed a risk for employers.

"That is going to slow things down a lot. The biggest cost is your labour and companies aren't willing to take the risk."

Ministry of Social Development regional commissioner Mike Bryant said ongoing population growth and housing supply had contributed to the rise in people receiving the Jobseeker Support benefit.

"Broader economic and labour market conditions also play a part, with an employment slowdown in construction and manufacturing resulting in fewer entry-level jobs."

However, Bryant said the kiwifruit season helped get jobseekers back into the workforce and the ministry was working with the industry on ways to secure permanent positions.

CBC Construction and Classic Builders group director Peter Cooney said there were more people available to work but a slowdown in construction due to a lack of land to build on.

In his view, it was only going to get worse if the Government did not start to invest in infrastructure.

"Otherwise a train wreck is coming in the next 12 to 15 months."

Comvita chief people and culture officer Saada McNamee said the pool of candidates in the Bay was relatively small, putting importance on developing and retaining current employees.

"At times, it can be difficult to fill specialised roles locally."

However, McNamee said having offices worldwide supported the company's ability to attract great talent.

Mount Maunganui's Ryan Moffat, 31, has landed a job after looking for about a week.

Moffat said of the 30 jobs he applied for, about 20 were from phone calls via an advertisement he had placed in the newspaper.

"Out of all the jobs I applied for, I never said no. But I was just waiting for the right one," he said.

"It wasn't easy. But it was a matter of not holding back and getting myself out there."

Unemployment rate
• The annual average unemployment rate in Tauranga City was 3.8 per cent in December 2018, down from 4.7 per cent a year earlier.
• The unemployment rate in New Zealand was 4.3 per cent over the year to December 2018.
• Over the past 10 years the unemployment rate reached a peak of 6.7 per cent in September 2010.

• Working-age Jobseeker Support recipients in Tauranga City in the year to December 2018 increased by 7.1 per cent.
• The number of Jobseeker Support benefits in New Zealand increased by 4.8 per cent.
• An average of 3073 people received a Jobseeker Support benefit in Tauranga City in the 12 months ended December 2018.
• That compared with an average of 3342 since the start of the series in 2010.
Source: Infometrics