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 was less affected by the global financial crisis than many other countries and employment has been gathering steam, particularly in the last three years. However, while employment conditions are expected to remain strong, the Government forecasts the growth rate will decline for the next three years to 2018. More detail is in the Job Market Overview below. 

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.

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Take the first step to a new life by registering your interest with Immigration New Zealand. We’ll send you personalised emails about job opportunities in your profession, life in New Zealand and choosing the right visa.

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Skills in demand

Some skills are in chronically short supply, and Immigration New Zealand has lists of skill shortages and separate list of shortages of the skills needed to help rebuild the Canterbury region after the earthquakes there in 2010 and 2011.

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  
Health and social services  
ICT and electronics  
Oil and gas    
Recreation, hospitality & tourism  

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

In the year to 30 June 2015, employment rose 3%. The unemployment rate was 5.9%.

Prices for our commodities (particularly dairy products) have slipped recently and business confidence is falling back. However the influences that have underpinned recent strong growth still apply - migration generating more demand, post-earthquake construction activity in Canterbury and growth in domestic incomes creating jobs. So, on balance, the government expects employment to remain strong over the next three years but to grow but at a slowing rate.

The job sectors driving employment growth are changing. The Canterbury construction industry is playing a less prominent role. Instead, recent employment growth has been in manufacturing, particularly in Christchurch and Auckland, and mostly in food production, machinery and equipment manufacturing, and textile manufacturing.

Nearly half (44%) of annual employment growth to June 2015 was in Auckland, followed by Bay of Plenty (8%) and Waikato (4%).

Skilled job vacancies advertised on three major internet job boards - SEEK, TradeMe jobs, and the Education Gazette increased by nearly 4% over the year to June 2015.

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

Short term employment prospects | MBIE 

Labour market and skills research | MBIE

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Page last updated: 24/11/2015

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