Job market & key industries

Is it a good time to be looking for jobs in New Zealand? Definitely - especially if you have the right skills.

New Zealand’s employment market has been gathering steam steadily since the global financial crisis - a trend that’s set to continue.

There are many job openings for specialists in industries such as medicine, engineering and IT. But there are also opportunities to contribute more generalist skills.

Skills in demand

Some skills are in chronically short supply, and Immigration New Zealand has lists of skill shortages.

If you are offered a job in New Zealand which appears on a skill shortage list and you have the qualifications and experience to match, getting a work and residence visa will be easier. This is because the Government has identified that employers need to recruit people from overseas to help meet demand for your skills.

Currently, the lists cover skills in these areas:

table caption
  Long Term shortages Immediate shortages Canterbury shortages
Agriculture and forestry  
Construction
Education  
Engineering
Finance/business  
Health and social services  
ICT and electronics    
Oil and gas    
Recreation, hospitality & tourism  
Science  
Telecommunications  
Trades
Transport  

A full list of current skill shortages in New Zealand can be found by using our handy tool:

Skill shortage list checker | Immigration New Zealand

Job sites to explore

Other skills and avenues

If your skills aren’t on the shortage lists or you’d really like to go for residency, it may still be possible to get a visa.

For instance, you may be able to apply for residency as a Skilled Migrant. You may also be able to apply for a work visa if you’re offered a job by an employer who can’t find a local worker for the vacancy.

Visas to Work 

Great job opportunities in New Zealand (02:15)

George Manjooran: What I liked about New Zealand before moving was like the work/life balance and the IT industry is still in the growth phase, so I thought maybe New Zealand is the right place for me to pursue my career.

Bob Stimson: I was looking for some new opportunities. I was looking for a change from the position that I was in. There was a very big need for structural engineers in New Zealand following the Christchurch earthquakes.

Connor Coady: The wind industry here in New Zealand is still relatively young compared with Europe and it's very exciting to be part of an industry that's growing.

Simon Shaw: We came over six months before we permanently emigrated and I went back with probably four or five job offers.

Lindsay Crummet: One thing that really drew me to the film industry in Wellington was that it seemed so accessible, especially in comparison to Los Angeles. It just seemed so easy that I was able to set up a meeting and meet Richard Taylor. It progressed to where I was finally able to get a job.

Willem Landman: There's lots of opportunities for doctors, nurses, other healthcare professionals anywhere in New Zealand. A very large proportion of our healthcare workforce is foreign-trained.

Peter Mathewson: We've currently got a worldwide recruitment campaign on the go for structural and geo-technical engineers, and we're marketing across Europe, Ireland, through the UK, Canada, and USA.

Scott Campbell: There's still a real shortage of trained, experienced geo-special professionals. You'll see there's a lot more jobs on offer than there are CVs available. The industry is still growing, and we're seeing the GIS area growing especially quickly.

Tony Stone: The skill gap that we find here at GNS in terms of recruitment is predominately experienced PhD scientists. Five to seven years’ experience, so overseas recruits are a core part of our need.

Adrian Matthews: In terms of career opportunities, my wife and I have both been really, really pleased with the number of opportunities that exist and that will exist in the future.

Simon Shaw: I think if you're the sort of person that's willing to give things a go, get stuck in, it shouldn't be too hard to find a job.

George Manjooran: If you prepare well, if you do a proper job research, if you study the market well, it's easy to get a job in New Zealand.

Job market overview

Job vacancies on the two main internet boards rose a solid 15.4% through 2013, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Vacancies are now at levels not seen since mid 2008 and employers are reporting difficulties finding skilled labour.

Business confidence is at a 20-year high (NZIER), while unemployment was down to 6.2% by September 2013, well below the OECD overall average then of 7.9%. (Our unemployment has been below the OECD average for over a decade.)

The economy will add over 100,000 jobs (4.4% growth) in the two years to 2016, according to the Government.

Particularly strong jobs growth is expected in the Auckland and Canterbury regions and in the construction and utilities industries

Highly skilled jobs (managers and professionals across a number of areas) will be in consistently high demand, accounting for about 50% of overall employment growth.

For the latest overview, visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Market Update.

Survey of Business Opinion | NZIER

Short term employment prospects | MBIE (PDF 694KB)

Labour market and skills research | MBIE

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Page last updated: 27/10/2014

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