The Western Bay of Plenty is expected to have 25,000 new jobs by 2038 with experts predicting strong growth this year despite Covid-19.
Horticulture, agriculture, building, construction and IT are just some industries tipped to employ more people while experts say the rebound has been strong.
Tauranga and Rotorua have faced a mix bag but those at the coalface believe 2021 will bring new opportunities for businesses and job seekers.
1st Call Recruitment managing director Phil van Syp said it had its best year last year ''which is just crazy''.
He expected growth in the trades and construction to continue in Tauranga and another industry to watch was IT.
''Tauranga is becoming a real hub for technology which I find quite interesting. You just have to look at all the things that came out of Covid including new apps and systems.
''I think it will be a big thing.''
Van Syp said he thought the future looked bright.
''We are already extremely busy. We have work forecasted out to June which is unusual and I can't find enough people.
''So if people really want to work send them my way because we have jobs coming out of our ears.''
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said most sectors had a strong rebound after lockdown thanks to stronger consumer confidence than initially anticipated.
Many businesses have strong pipelines heading into 2021, including trades, architects and professional services.
Those who didn't do so well were more reliant on open borders, had pre-existing problems, or were just unlucky with timing, he said.
''Covid-19 showed the benefit of business continuity planning, including the need for workplace flexibility and having good communications plans to staff and stakeholders.
''Logistics is a prime example where companies who primarily had a just-in-time cost efficiency focus, are now building in just-in-case focus to ensure they can provide continuity in an uncertain world.''
But Cowley said there was still some uncertainty by chief executives on what Q3 and 4 2021 might look like once the Government's stimulus packages have gone through the economy and net migration was limited by border control policies.
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said there were about 100,000 jobs in the Western Bay at present.
He said the result of growth in the economy and an increasing population means the region was expected to have 25,000 new jobs by 2038.
''In my view we will struggle to fill that amount across the region, so it will be really important to ensure we have the right skills for the future in our workforce. Because of the size of the increase we would expect unemployment to remain quite low in the future.''
Most of its business members were insulated from the bad effects of the pandemic last year and there was business growth across many sectors – ''a pleasant surprise in difficult conditions''.
''Businesses are growing in confidence and with more of a return to normal this year, I'd expect local businesses to be even stronger; with trades and professional services leading job creation.''
The Provincial Development Unit's skills and employment director, Nathan Grennell, said the Ara Rau – Pathways to Work was a community-led skills and employment hub.
It officially launched this year and was a partnership between the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment and Priority One.
''We are excited to see the impact Ara Rau – Pathways to Work will have for whānau in Tauranga. We believe this funding has potential to support local Māori, as well as people impacted by Covid, those wanting to return to the workforce, finishing studies, or workers with jobs who want to upskill.''
Meanwhile, Destination Rotorua interim chief executive Andrew Wilson said 2020 was a real mixed bag from an economic perspective with some businesses suffering from a reduced visitor economy.
Others involved in sectors like forestry and wood processing, manufacturing, construction, grocery and professional services doing very well, he said.
''We see their business confidence reflected in the range of roles listed on recruitment sites for those sectors and we expect to see that demand continue throughout the year.''
But there were still challenges ahead for businesses that are dependent on high visitor volume because these had suffered from the pandemic more than others.
Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said the retail sector was very diverse, and there's a wide range of roles in retail, ranging from frontline customer service staff to marketing, social media, buying and leadership.
''The retail sector is always in need of people who have great skills and are keen to work.''
That said, 2021 was likely to be challenging.
''There are significant extra costs in terms of employing staff coming from the next minimum wage hike, proposed changes to sick leave, and the proposed Matariki public holiday; all of which will be encouraging retailers to look very closely at their businesses and try to operate more efficiently. We would expect there to be fewer roles advertised in retail overall over the next year.''
Trade Me Jobs spokesman Matt Tolich said in the Bay of Plenty, the sectors that saw the biggest year-on-year increase in jobs listings in the last quarter of 2020 were manufacturing and operations (37 per cent), agriculture, fishing and forestry (15 per cent), and trades and services (14 per cent).
''While sectors like fishing and forestry typically experience a seasonal jump in Q4, in 2020 with no overseas workers to fill these roles, employers were forced to look locally and this is contributing to some big jumps in job listings.''
The latest data from the Ministry for Social Development shows in November 2020 there were 20,280 people on the Job Seekers benefit in the Bay of Plenty compared with 14,431 in November 2019.