Tauranga's job market is 'booming', recruitment companies say, as employment confidence soars with construction leading the charge.
The news comes hard on the heels of the latest report from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment which shows job advertisements in the Bay of Plenty dropped 4.6 per cent in 2019 with the greatest falls in manufacturing and healthcare.
TradeMe figures revealed its Tauranga job listings fell 17.8 per cent in the last quarter of 2019.
But employers and recruitment agencies say the early signs are the job market is bouncing back in 2020.
Peter Cooney from Classic Builders Group, the largest building company in the Bay, said it had a record November and December and 2020 was shaping up to be another solid year.
He said the construction industry was short of workers.
"I believe all sectors are in short supply just to the general demand due to the increase in the volume of housing being built."
The company built nearly 700 houses last year, had taken on a large number of new staff and now there were 250 employees on the books.
One of those was 32-year-old construction manager Mark Carter who started in August.
He worked in the Waikato running his own business before taking up the new opportunity and was enjoying the challenge.
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"It's a real close-knit team."
1st Call Recruitment managing director Phill Van Syp said it was "flat-tack and it was struggling to find candidates which is indicative of the market".
He said it was hard to find labourers while IT and engineering positions were hard to fill.
There were also more industries moving into Tauranga and developments at Tauriko and Papamoa were creating high-end jobs, which was great when it came to attracting talent, Van Syp said.
Talent Id director Kellie Hamlett said a lot of new roles had emerged in 2020 and it was good time for job seekers to be looking.
Demand had increased for accounts, management and HR positions but "you have to remember the beginning of the year is always buoyant and it's not unusual for it to be booming".
It was also not unusual for popular roles like administration to attract 100 applicants.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the business community appeared to be cautiously optimistic although some were facing tough challenges including the cost of rent, the increasing minimum wage and transport charges.
"Despite the uncertainty overseas, locally we have a growing population, steady real estate conditions, a record kiwifruit season, and busy summer tourist season."
He said businesses have work that needs doing, but some are being cautious how they structure their resources.
"Many temp staffing companies had a busy year as businesses needed specific projects or tasks completed immediately but the business hesitated filling the role permanently.
"Businesses are forced to get more savvy with structuring their people resources to get the right balance of outsourcing specific skills and employing staff. This is because of increased market competition and increasing risks of managing and employing staff."
Medcall regional manager for the Bay of Plenty and Waikato Shirley West said the temp agency was continually recruiting and "we are the busiest we have ever been".
She said its main business was the aged care sector, private hospitals and rest homes.
"Our clients expect our staff to hit the ground running...we provide registered nurses, caregivers, support workers and home carers. A lot of our staff enjoy the flexibility and lifestyle of temping while others are between jobs."
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said Western Bay businesses were in a good place going into 2020.
"We expect hiring to be strong for the next six months at least. If anything, we see a shortage of talent at the moment."
Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said retail like other sectors struggled to find skilled workers to fill roles.
"Retailers are generally keen to employ Kiwis who want to work, but there is a real lack of skilled workers available and there is strong competition from other sectors."
Retailers were often looking for enthusiastic people who are literate and numerate, focused on delivering great customer experiences, and who are willing to learn new skills.
Harford said there were good career pathways doing roles including logistics, procurement, social media, marketing and digital marketing, design, IT, baking and people leadership.
Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty regional manager Alan Sciascia said businesses were finding it difficult to get experienced, qualified staff and meet rising costs.
"Where costs increase retailers have only two options, absorb these costs (in full or in part) or increase prices to customers. Increasingly retailers are taking the latter option simply to survive as profit margins are so slim."
A lot of barriers had been put in place in the last two years and stricter rules on foreign workers were also taking a toll as many worked in the industry.
According to Stats NZ latest data, there are about 157,000 employed people in the Bay of Plenty and 6200 were unemployed while the unemployment rate was 3.8 per cent.
Head of Jobs Jeremy Wade said low business confidence "took its toll on the area".
On the flip side, the average number of applications per listing in Tauranga jumped 30 per cent as a result, he said.
The most viewed job in Tauranga from October to December was for event staff to work at Bay Dreams. That job listing attracted more than 5000 views.