5 Aug 2011

Signs right for employment growth

2:47 pm on 5 August 2011

New Zealand's biggest recruitment company says growth in Auckland is putting the squeeze on finding skilled staff in the country's largest city.

The latest figures show the number of employed remained steady at 154,000 people in the three months to June, representing 6.5% of the labour force.

The Household Labour Force Survey also shows employment rose 2% on a year ago and, outside Christchurch, the demand for labour is recovering strongly.

Hays Recruitment managing director Jason Walker says the company has doubled the number of placements it has made in Auckland in the last 12 months, with qualified people with two to six years experience in particular demand.

He says there is growth across a number of sectors. In particular, he cites considerable growth in the technology sector, where budgets are being authorised now the economy is seen to be improving.

There is also strong demand for contact centre staff and signs that the construction industry is improving.

Mr Walker says potential employees are starting to ask for more money but with employers reluctant to pay more, increases in Auckland have been slight, compared with Christchurch - where wages have risen in response to demand there.

He says, with the rising demand for staff, employers need to be thinking about investing in retaining staff through training and other measures.

Where the jobs are

ASB economist Jane Turner says job numbers in Auckland are up 5.4% on a year ago, while hours worked have risen 1.8%.

She says figures are also strong for the lower South Island, with a pickup being seen in job availability in rural areas as farmers start to spend.

She says the recovery has been particular robust in Auckland, with a recovery in the housing market suggesting households there feel more upbeat.

Unemployment predicted to drop

Economists are picking that the unemployment rate will drop across the country as the Christchurch recovery gathers pace.

The pressure for workers is already apparent in the city, with the growing demand for qualified construction workers to help rebuild Christchurch prompting a major recruitment campaign in Europe and the UK.

Those workers are expected to begin arriving in the next three to six months.