Tens of thousands of New Zealanders completing secondary school this year need to be more flexible and resilient than ever, employment experts say.

And parents and caregivers will need to step up and provide guidance and support for the young job seekers in the tough Covid market.

New Zealand's annual Careers Expo opens next week and school leavers are being encouraged to go along with an open mind and a plan A, B and C when it comes to future study or first employment.

Covid-19 had severely impacted the job market and expo director Mark Gillard said, this year, students had even more questions about the future of certain industries.


"They are listening to the messages from the Government and from industry sectors so the expo is a great opportunity for them to speak to people in the industries they are interested in," Gillard said.

A wide range of industries, tertiary institutions, and employers would be at the event to give information and advice on the Covid impacted market.

Gillard said it was important for students to see the range of employment opportunities available and the different pathways to get there.

Graham Edwards, head of vocational & assisted learning at Auckland Grammar School, said the pandemic meant fewer "on the job" opportunities in certain industries.

"I will be encouraging students going along to have a Plan A, B, and C," he said.

"Kids connect by meeting people and going along and seeing what industries they click with is important - their first choice might not be the one they imagined."

With fewer jobs available, Edwards expected more school leavers to go on to polytechnics to further their skills for when the job market had recovered.

"Techs will be heaving at the seams," he said.

Industries currently on recruitment drives such as Growing NZ, Dairy NZ, Forestry NZ, and the NZ Defence Force would be well represented.

Michelle Glogau from Growing NZ said food and fibre, everything from growing quality food, wood and wool through to products like ice cream, burger patties, pizza boxes and clothing, would play a huge part in New Zealand's economic recovery.


An estimated 50,000 more people were needed in the sector by 2025.

Another major exhibitor at the Careers Expo was Tourism New Zealand with a Go With Tourism section.

The hospitality and tourism industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic with international flights grounded, the cruise ship industry halted and mass redundancies in tourism and aviation.

Hospitality might be quiet now but skilled workers would be needed when the sector recovered. Photo / Getty
Hospitality might be quiet now but skilled workers would be needed when the sector recovered. Photo / Getty

Prior to the Covid-19, tourism was New Zealand's number one export industry and 40,000 tourism workers were needed by 2030 to keep up with demand.

Go With Tourism's Matt Stenton said the industry was expected to bounce back in around three years' time and those numbers were still valid.

"Covid was a once-in-a-lifetime event and in three or five-years' time we expect New Zealand tourism to thrive again and new talent will be highly sought after.


"Now is the perfect time to show students what success can look like in tourism, to place them into tourism businesses for work experience, and to get them training towards their career goals."

Shirley Johnson, Youth Employability Director at Comet, said parents and caregivers should attend the Career Expo with their school leaver.

"Wellbeing and mental health is number one so having that support and understanding at home during study or the job search is really important," Johnston said.

She said Covid-19 meant young people might be even further away from their dream job and needed to be encouraged to be flexible and broaden their scope.

She said parents should get to know what their children are interested in and help them research it.

"Parents should sit down, look at what sectors have jobs and the range of work within sectors," she said.


"Take time to understand the sector and be aware of what jobs are available in your region."

Careers Expo dates:

Auckland: August 6-8
Hamilton: August 23-24
Wellington: September 4-5
Christchurch: September 10-12