Hundreds of new retail jobs are expected in Tauranga as two major shopping developments near completion, but there is a shortage of local workers in the sector to fill them.
The Tauranga Crossing and Bayfair developments are due to be completed next year, and it is estimated up to 2500 people will be employed in fulltime and part-time jobs across the two centres.
Economic development agency Priority One and a Tauranga recruitment agency say there is currently a shortage of retail staff in the city.
"We think this is largely due to the significant expansion of the retail sector with the opening of Tauranga Crossing and also the expansion of Bayfair," Priority One projects manager Annie Hill said.
"One company told us they advertised for retail assistants hoping to fill 30 roles. They were anticipating getting around 100 applicants, but they only received 20 in total."
She thought the staff shortage issue had been highlighted in good time, "which gives a chance for the retail sector to plan for their upcoming needs".
Cherie Hill, a senior consultant at Kinetic Recruitment, said her company identified three or four months ago there was a gap to be filled in Tauranga – there was no agency specialising in retail recruitment.
Kinetic created a retail division and hired someone in Tauranga to focus on it.
Clients were saying things like "we really struggle to recruit in this space" and were talking of "a talent shortage".
"I think one real issue is that job seekers don't feel that retail is a genuine career," she said.
A change of mindset was needed, Hill said.
Employers need to offer professional development and value their staff. However, she did believe a variety of opportunities and the right kind of companies were coming to Tauranga and the region.
"There are good regional manager, area manager, store manager-level roles and some big chain stores that are coming to the region."
Hill said "hundreds" of new retail jobs were expected in Tauranga.
Alicia Gordon, Kinetic's retail specialist for Bay of Plenty/Waikato, started in her new role about two months ago.
"Because the industry is booming they've brought me on especially to fill the gap here," she said.
"Obviously (we are) trying to source people locally in the Bay of Plenty but we're advertising for people from out of town when we need to, to fill the more specialist roles."
Tauranga Crossing chief executive Steve Lewis said Tauranga was an attractive place to live and work, as it had one of the fastest-growing regional economies in New Zealand.
"The new jobs created in the retail and food and beverage industries will provide fantastic employment opportunities for local people and those looking to move to the area," he said.
"We estimate that by the time stage two of the enclosed mall is complete next year the retailers at the Tauranga Crossing complex will be employing up to 1000 people in fulltime and part-time retail jobs."
Bayfair centre manager Steve Ellingford said the growing demand for more retail and entertainment was a good creator of jobs.
"Bayfair's development will see plenty of business and employment opportunities open up, supplementing the Bay of Plenty's boom," he said.
"On completion, it is estimated that Bayfair and its retailers would employ 1500 people. The development itself has created upwards of 400 construction jobs."
Ellingford said while many of the retailers joining Bayfair would have lined up employees for the opening of their stores later this year, there would be a continued need for staff throughout the retail seasons.
"We envisage there being another wave of employment opportunity in retail within the next six months, and this is where recruitment agencies can help usher locals into retail."
The majority of stores in the first phase of the new-look Bayfair will open in November, and there will be 150 stores completed in late 2019.
Yudu general manager Sarah Wood said the number of retail jobs around the country was holding relatively steady, but she expected listings on the careers website to increase as the busy Christmas season approaches.
"We have nearly 400 retail jobs on offer around the country - and some employers are already warning candidates to be aware of the added pressures Christmas brings to the sector."