A new survey shows nearly half of employers say that they have experienced difficulty in finding the right workers for their companies.
Big staff recruitment firm Manpower reports 48% of respondents are struggling to fill critical positions, a rise of 11 percentage points compared with last year.
That's well above the global average of 34 percent.
Engineers, sales representatives and skilled trades are the most difficult positions to fill.
Manpower's managing director Lincoln Crawley says schools are not getting the right message about careers, and teachers and career counsellors do not have enough information to provide the right advice to students.
"Industry's not engaging closely enough with the education sector," he says.
The company says skill shortages are only going to get worse when the rebuilding of Christchurch gets underway.