Bay business owners need to re-think their recruitment strategies and "double down" as competition for job seekers remains strong, experts say.
Thousands of Bay jobs are expected to be created by the end of 2021 but staff shortages meant some business owners were "exhausted" and picking up the slack in the meantime.
Meanwhile, the local polytechnic was seeing an increase in students wanting to retrain or upskill as it focused on providing people with "real skills" for in-demand jobs.
Economic development agency Priority One's labour market report for July 2021 showed there were currently 100,000 filled jobs in Tauranga.
A total of 3000 jobs were created in 2020 and there will be at least 140,000 jobs created by 2050, the report said.
In Rotorua, there was a net increase of 370 jobs in the year to March 2020, with 36,025 filled jobs in 2020 compared to 35,655 filled jobs in 2019.
Most jobs in the past five years were created in construction, hospitality, administration, accommodation and food services, education and training, health care and assistance.
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said job creation was expected to be at similar levels in 2021.
"Although, filling these jobs in 2021 will be much more of a challenge for businesses."
Tutt said the Western Bay of Plenty's labour market has tightened considerably during this year to the point where employers were challenged to find staff.
"Despite this, people remain in the market to be employed and we need to double down on efforts to get them into the workforce, this may mean that businesses need to think differently about hiring."
Tutt said its community-led skills and employment hub Ara Rau – Pathways to Work was doing an "excellent job" linking job seekers who may not take a traditional path and linking them with training or local businesses.
"Many of those people are new to the job market or might have been displaced during the pandemic."
Priority One's Future of Work adviser Alex Barrett said 40,000 jobs will be created in the Western Bay in the next 30 years.
"We need to prepare for this."
Barrett said the Future of Work campaign aims to "challenge traditional mindsets of work and showcase the Western Bay as a great place to grow your career".
"Currently, we have a talent shortage and a skills mismatch meaning the skills that are in demand are not readily available in our talent pool."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said business owners were struggling to switch off.
"Many businesses' owners took time off for school holidays, but they were still checking emails and taking urgent phone calls.
"Some have new or developing managers that make it difficult to completely delegate and disengage from work for a week.
"The exhaustion is compounding on the back of a restless year last year."
Cowley said the most impacted was the service sector, where labour was the biggest component of their business and included hospitality, trades, and drivers.
The shortage of staff in both high and low skilled jobs was still the most common issue across businesses, he said.
"Business owners inevitably are dragged into operational details to make up for the staff shortages."
He said it wasn't easy delegating when there was a labour shortage but business owners and managers needed to make themselves less essential in the workplace.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said he knew of business owners having to do their own work in the hospitality sector where staff shortages were a problem for some.
"Also, in the farming sector where overseas workers have been employed in the past. It does seem out of step with reports of unemployment."
Director of one of the Bay's biggest building companies, Classic Group, Peter Cooney, said the construction industry has experienced a "boom" in the past five years, especially since Covid-19 lockdown.
"Despite commentary at the time suggesting New Zealand would face a recession and that demand in the construction industry would drop, we have experienced the complete opposite and we expect this to continue for some time.
"It's a pretty simple equation – the increase in demand for commercial development and housing is creating more jobs and right now, the labour market can't keep up with industry demand."
Cooney said the company had listed an average of 12 new vacancies a month in the past year and hired for 87 newly created roles across the group.
But, he said, the biggest issues facing the construction labour market were a shortage of talent, lack of immigration bringing in skilled tradespeople, and competition for talent driving salaries up.
"We have had to review our recruitment strategies to keep ahead of the curve.
"We're focused on providing growth and development opportunities and creating a compelling employee experience to retain our current staff."
Cooney said 50 per cent of its job hires come through its networks or recommendations from its own people, 20 per cent of the roles were filled internally providing growth opportunities for its team.
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology faculty dean Bart Vosse said there had been an increase in domestic students due to people wanting to retrain or upskill.
"Our focus is on providing people with real skills for in-demand jobs. We know that there is huge demand for skilled workers and we are working to bridge that gap."
Vosse said automotive, carpentry, electrotechnology, nursing and foundation courses were popular with Bay of Plenty and South Waikato school leavers.
"We have seen good uptake of primary industry courses, which are covered by the Government's Targeted Training and Apprenticeship (TTAF) funding and include agriculture and IT."
Toi Ohomai also has 685 students enrolled in its Secondary-Tertiary Programme (STP), offering high school students a first taste of their chosen industry.
"The programme helps build a greater domestic pipeline to meet increased employment opportunities.
"As we transition across to Te Pūkenga we will able to provide more opportunities for all our learners, bringing together on-the-job, on campus, and online vocational education and training."