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Skill and Labour Shortages

The New Zealand labour market has been characterised by skill and labour shortages for much of the past decade. These shortages are a problem for businesses and the economy as a whole because they can prevent companies from expanding, becoming more productive, and operating at their full potential.

Even during the recent recession there were industries and occupations where particular skills were in demand, yet workers with these skills were difficult to find. Skills in demand can be influenced by a number of factors, such as technological changes, economic shifts, global movement of skilled workers, and ageing populations.

There are two basic kinds of skill shortages. Genuine shortages occur where employers find it hard to fill vacancies because there are not enough job seekers with the required skills. Recruitment and retention difficulties can also cause shortages when adverse pay rates or working conditions mean individuals with the right skills are unwilling to do available work.

Labour shortages occur when there are not enough workers available to do all the work required. This can happen across all industries and affects jobs at a range of skill levels. Low unemployment rates are the major cause of this type of shortage.

New Zealand is likely to continue to face a variety of skill and labour shortages. Some of these will be short term, for example around a critical event; some will be much longer term; and some will be around very specific skill sets.

Industry training organisations are working with their industries to identify and address skill and labour shortages. Their strategies include providing more training for workers, actively attracting people to their industry, and recognising and developing the skills of unemployed or under-employed workers. This work is critical to alleviate skill shortages that already exist and help prevent those likely to occur in the future.


Skill and Labour Shortages Case Studies

Truck Drivers Cadetship Programme


BCITO Solid Plaster Master Class

All case studies are published in Skilling New Zealand: ITO Leadership in Action