Special Report: Analysis of job vacancies around country shows opportunities in unexpected places

Jobseekers should not ignore rural New Zealand when it comes to looking for work as smaller areas have more opportunities in some industries, a Herald investigation has found.

The Manawatu/Wanganui area is advertising for three veterinarians - more than any other region in the country.

And Northland is in desperate need of nine forestry scientists, representing a quarter of the country's current vacancies for the job.

Both positions feature on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skills shortage list, which was created to help ensure the country's demands are met by facilitating the entry of skilled migrants to fill the shortages.


The Herald analysed where jobs from the list were being advertised using the Careers NZ website - the Government's job support agency which reports to Education Minister Hekia Parata.

It matches the positions against vacancies on Trade Me, which the auction website says is accessed by more than 5000 job-seekers a day.

There were 1601 listings but the numbers were slightly skewed as jobs with fewer than 10 vacancies, or which did not fit in one of Trade Me's categories, were not included.

Canterbury had almost 100 more advertised jobs than Wellington with 340 - or 21 per cent - as Christchurch battles to attract tradespeople for the city's rebuilding following the earthquakes.

It was second behind Auckland, which had 31 per cent of the jobs from 15 regions listed (Nelson and Tasman were grouped together).

Smaller regions crying out for workers included Hawkes Bay 39, Northland 36, Taranaki 34, Southland 29, Nelson/Tasman 20, the West Coast 15, Marlborough 10, and Gisborne eight.

The engineering industry had 470 positions advertised. The construction, trades and transport industry had 283.

The trade with the biggest shortfall was automotive electrician, which had 249 vacancies. It was the only job which had positions advertised in all regions.


Other positions with more than 100 vacancies were civil engineers, nurses and midwives, chefs, electrical engineers/electricians, building contractors and chemical engineers.

Employment experts say jobseekers should open their eyes to opportunities around the country.

"There is a feeling among New Zealanders that in tough times, when you are finding it difficult to find a job, that maybe you should head to the big cities, maybe you've got a better chance of finding a job in the big cities," said David Lowe of the Employers and Manufacturers Association.

"A lot of the training is done in the bigger cities so people might move from the regions and then not return home."

He said trades were lacking workers partly because of technological advances, including for automotive electricians.

"Every kind of job there is, there has been some kind of technological advancement recently and it actually moves quite fast. As things progress, gaps and holes in skills just appear.

"You used to go to a mechanic in a garage and there might have been grease all over the floor and oil. You go to a technician now and they put a computer in the garage into a computer in your car. The screen pops up and says what's wrong. People don't always keep their skills up-to-date enough to be able to keep up with all those changes."

Incentives for apprenticeships were taken away under Jim Bolger in the 1990s but brought back by Helen Clark a decade later under her Modern Apprenticeships scheme.

But Mr Lowe said Helen Clark's 2001 Catching The Knowledge Wave project, which pushed school leavers towards university, might have steered more away from trades jobs.

"There was a time when we moved towards a more academic approach ... Those practical careers weren't given the focus and the kids at school weren't exposed to them.

"You don't know whether you're any good at these things until you give them a go, and if you're not given a go, then you never really find out. When looking for careers, you tend to pick something you're familiar with, and I think we're paying the price for that now."

Labour's spokeswoman for labour issues and immigration, Darien Fenton, said some migrants recruited for work here often left for jobs across the Tasman.

"We don't treat them particularly well. Often they end up not working in the jobs they thought they were going to work in so there's a mismatch between what they're told in other countries."

As an incentive to business owners, mainly of smaller companies, Labour has suggested the Government pay apprentices the equivalent of the unemployment benefit, and the employer top up the wages.

Alex Powell, construction and property business director of recruiting experts Hays, said the company was expecting the rebuilding of Christchurch to have a significant impact on the trades job market, sucking jobs out of Auckland.

Job market
Jobs with the biggest demand (and which area has the biggest demand for that job)

*Automotive electrician 249, Auckland 80

*Civil engineer 197, Auckland 72

*Nurses/midwives 197, Auckland 85

*Chef 193, Auckland 63

*Electrical engineer/electrician 172, Auckland 44

*Building contractor 151, Canterbury 70

*Chemical engineer 108, Canterbury 40

*Mechanical engineer 84, Auckland 27

*Software architect 69, Wellington 48

*Forestry scientist 37, Northland 9

*Refrigeration/air-conditioning technician 32, Auckland 15

*Project manager (IT) 25, Canterbury 10

*Environmental scientist 24, Wellington 8

*Tertiary lecturer 19, Auckland 7

*Urban/regional planner 17, Auckland 11

*Psychologist 15, Auckland 4

*Veterinarian 12, Manawatu/Wanganui 3