Job ad growth continues across New Zealand
The New Zealand economy has been going from strength to strength with another surplus announced in the May budget. The good times are also being reflected in the employment market with the latest data from SEEK Employment Trends showing year-on-year growth in job ads. 

May delivered a 7.9% lift in SEEK job ads compared to the same time last year. Sentiment across the country is also on the rise with the New Zealand Consumer Confidence rising to a five-month high. “The labour market is solid,” says Lee Tyrell, Director of recruitment firm Franklin Smith. “Construction is continuing across the country and this is also having a flow on effect to other industries. Competition for candidates continues to be strong.”

Industries on the rise

The majority of industries experienced year-on-year growth in May. Sales grew by 23% and the average advertised salary was $74,148. Government and defence was up by 9% and the average advertised salary was $80,750. The country’s thriving hospitality and tourism industry also rose by 14% and the average advertised salary was $52,718. Pete Macauley, Regional Director of recruitment firm Michael Page says commercial roles within tourism are in strong demand. “We’re seeing a growing appetite for business development and employers are looking for candidates who can build the new relationships that help build a business,” he says.

May’s Federal Budget included a $4 billion investment in new capital works, including a new building program for hospitals, new water storage infrastructure and rail networks. This is sure to have an impact on New Zealand’s construction industry and related fields. Construction job ads on SEEK rose by 10% year-on-year in May and the average advertised salary was $97,150. “Construction is having a huge impact on the broader economy,” says Tyrell. “Construction also comes at the tail end of a planning phase because architecture and engineering have to happen first and these industries are also benefitting from the boom.”

Job ads for the design and architecture industry were up by 4% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $81,932. Engineering also rose by 20% and the average advertised salary was $90,752.

Meanwhile, legal roles slipped by 2% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $81,750. Advertising, arts and media was also down by 16% and the average advertised salary was $69,278. Job ads for information and communications technology also declined by 3% and the average advertised salary was $93,840. “We’re still seeing good demand for talent across the industry,” says Megan Alexander, Managing Director of recruitment firm Robert Half in New Zealand. “Candidates with soft skills are in strong demand. Employers want people who can communicate across the business.”

Trends across the regions

Auckland, Waikato and Hawkes Bay continue to experience strong levels of job ads relative to the past five years and the trend has been increasing over the past four months. Wellington has seen moderate levels relative to the past five years however there has been an upward trend in recent months. 

In the South Island, job ads continued to rise this May in Canterbury (up 3.9% year-on-year), which indicates the region’s jobs market may be finding its feet after a prolonged period of weakness.

While there have been low levels of job ads in the West coast relative to the past five years, there are promising signs of recovery with an upward trend over the past four months.

Impact of job location

Employers looking to attract top talent may need to review their policies on flexible working. Alexander says job location is having an impact on candidates’ choice of employer and those that can offer flexibility, such as revised core working hours, may appear more attractive. “There are massive traffic jams, particularly in Auckland, and we don't have a great public transport system to support commuting,” she says. “We're seeing many candidates looking for new opportunities that are closer to home. Employers may need to offer more opportunities to work from home, to offer different core hours to allow workers to beat the traffic.”

McCauley adds that now is the time to look at salary levels in order to attract and retain the best talent. “You need to recalibrate your salary levels and make sure you have a very clear understanding of current market rates,” he says. 

Alexander advises employers to take a proactive approach to salaries in the current market. “Don’t try to fight it,” she says. “It isn't enough to sit back and think, ‘Well the salary reviews are done in June every year’. You want to hold on to your top performers, so look into the way salary levels are shifting in your industry and have the conversations before your people take their resume to market.”

As the competition for talent continues to grow, Tyrell says employers must ensure they can sell their business to potential employees. 

“Explain who you are and what you stand for and make sure you understand why a candidate is looking to move roles and how you can provide the career solution they are looking for,” he says. “Employees are your key asset and the right candidates are sure to open up new opportunities for your business.”