Demand high for skilled workers across NZ – not just chippies and sparkies

18 August 2017

New Zealand’s skills shortage is worsening despite genuine career opportunities that exist for qualified workers in many sectors.

While the building and construction sector will always experience high demand for qualified chippies, sparkies and plumbers, it’s the engineering, manufacturing, and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) industries that are crying out for more apprentices, says Fiona Kingsford, chief executive of industry training organisation Competenz.

Competenz represents all New Zealand apprenticeships in 36 industries including engineering, forestry, manufacturing, refrigeration, HVAC and printing, and Kingsford says while apprenticeship enrolments have increased in the past 12 months, there are still major skill shortages facing New Zealand businesses.

“The current housing crisis has led the public to mostly focus on the opportunities in the building and construction sectors,” Kingsford says. “But there is a real and genuine demand from all trades for skilled people.

“An average of 10,500 jobs will need to be filled in the manufacturing sector each year for the next four years and people with engineering fabrication skills will also be in high demand.

“Employment in the engineering sector grew by 7.7 percent between 2011 and 2016 and it is anticipated in the next five years, there will be an average of 600 jobs needing to be filled each year.

“We are also seeing demand in the wood manufacturing sector, driven by an ageing workforce. In 2013, more than a third of employees in this sector were aged 50 or over, so we expect a high level of people exiting the sector into retirement in the next five to 15 years, leaving thousands of roles to be filled.”

Kingsford says these roles are no longer just manual labour jobs.

“There’s been a shift towards highly skilled and technical roles. In today’s job market practical intelligence has just as much earning power as academic intelligence.”

Helping to raise awareness of careers in New Zealand’s trades and services is the third annual “Got A Trade? Got It Made!” campaign running from 21 to 27 August. 

The campaign aims to show all young people and their parents, teachers and careers advisors the benefits of “earn while you learn” as a pathway to great jobs and successful careers.

The Got a Trade! Industry Training Awards in Wellington on 23 August will celebrate success within the industry training community and showcase individuals, organisations and schools that are advocates and ambassadors of industry training.

A series of “SpeedMeet” events will be held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in October to bring employers and jobseekers together. Find out more at

Competenz is a business division of Te Pūkenga Work Based Learning Limited. Learn More

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