Hundreds of Hawke's Bay businesses will be invited to take part in a major research project hoping to understand the skills required to support business growth across the region.

The Hawke's Bay Growth Study, a joint initiative between the Eastern Institute of Technology and Business Hawke's Bay, with support from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, has been under way since 2016, with phase three starting in the form of an in-depth interview process, Business Hawke's Bay chief executive Carolyn Neville said.

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"It's important to understand the skills that Hawke's Bay businesses will require in the future and to plan now for future needs.


"This phase of the study kicks off with three key sectors: primary industries, transport and logistics, and the digital industries sectors. These sectors have been selected as the initial sectors for data collection as they represent a broad cross-section of both large industries and rapidly growing industries in Hawke's Bay.

"We will progressively expand the businesses covered by the study to encompass most of the key business sectors in Hawke's Bay."

The potential value of the study was "immense", she said.

"This study relies on the support of the business community. We're enormously grateful for the support we have received so far, and for what's to come in this next phase.

"Our team will be calling and setting up appointments for the survey, and we're asking businesses for a time investment of between 30 and 45 minutes. If you're asked, please take the time to participate.

"We want to make sure that the business community is aware of the study and how it can benefit our region, and we hope that businesses will see there's a win-win in participating," Neville said.

Interviews will be booked by telephone and conducted by trained interviewers either in person or over the phone throughout September.

EIT associate professor Jonathan Sibley said the survey would provide key input to ensuring appropriate skills were available to help Hawke's Bay businesses.

"The information gathered will be invaluable, and the findings will be shared with the community via a series of seminars. We'll also provide all respondents with a summary of the findings."

The Hawke's Bay Growth Study has been developed by EIT and is thought to be a "first of a kind" study, Sibley said.

The in-depth study also looked to develop an understanding of the growth requirements of large industries, as well as the smaller, growing industries that were not often picked up in similar-type studies.

"The importance of the smaller, growing industries, is they are often where tomorrow's jobs are."

The first phase of the study involved a desk-based 15-year economic analysis of industries in Hawke's Bay.

A total of 300 industry leader's were then identified with 186 of them spoken to as part of phase two, across a "whole range" of sectors.

The results of that showed a very different picture between different sectors but with 80 per cent of sectors expecting above average growth, he said.

However, there was also a major perception across the region that there was a "pervasive shortage" of skills.

"What we are now doing, is going back out to industry but to talk to far more businesses with a study to ask what is the skill you are going to need, what is the shortage you have, what are the constraints that may be there that are preventing you from growing."

Phase three would also help build up a better picture of the region's growing digital sector - a sector that was not normally picked up in traditional economic analysis.

"The point behind the study is to ensure we have the right skills in place to support growth into Hawke's Bay. This is a first. There have been regional economic studies done but there is nothing of this nature that we are aware of at all.

"Ultimately, we want Hawke's Bay to prosper, we want to have an environment where young people see a future here, where we can supply the skill as much as possible locally. Or if we do need to get external specialists in, we can be very specific about what we need and that's the point of this study."