SEEK Employment Trends: industry spotlight on hospitality and tourism

Tourists are being drawn to New Zealand’s breath-taking natural scenery and cosmopolitan cities in greater numbers than ever before and the country’s hospitality and tourism industry is thriving. The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows job ads are on the rise and experts say competition for talent is hotting up.

Tourism is one of the New Zealand economy’s greatest earners. It employs more than 6% of the country’s workforce and accounts for about $13.5 billion in export earnings. SEEK job ads in the country’s broader hospitality and tourism industry are increasing. They grew by 7% year-on-year in September and the average advertised salary was $51,648.

“There’s been huge growth across the industry,” says Trish McLean, Group CEO of recruitment firm RWR Group. “Our team is finding that the best candidates are getting multiple job offers.”


Demand on the rise

Key areas of the hospitality and tourism sector have seen increases in job ads year-on-year for the three-month period from July to September. Job ads for housekeeping roles were up by 52% year-on-year during this time. Craig Binney, who holds a human resources role at the Scenic Hotel Group, attributes this to an overall increase in business throughout the industry and the growth in hotel bookings. “Demand for housekeeping roles is purely based on the amount of rooms that you sell,” he explains. “Our numbers are up and it has been a really busy year. People are gearing up for the summer season earlier because they've got the confidence that they'll be able to maintain those staffing levels through the rest of the year.”

There was also an increase in SEEK job ads for wait staff, which grew by 35% year-on-year in the three-month period from July to September. Front office and guest services roles also rose by 32% over the same period and management roles were also rose by 31%. Binney explains that employers often find management roles difficult to fill because people tend to view the industry as a place for transient work rather than a long-term career. “It's quite hard to convince people that hospitality and tourism is a legitimate career,” he says. “A lot of people see it as a part-time job and we lose a lot of talent early on to other industries.  I know Tourism New Zealand is trying to put together a road map to address this.”

Chefs are also proving to be challenging to recruit in the New Zealand market. SEEK jobs ads for chefs and cooks also grew by 7% over the same period and Binney says demand is increasing. “Perhaps our biggest challenge moving forward is securing skilled labour in the kitchen area.” Binney notes that chef apprenticeships are also being affected by New Zealand’s construction boom, which is drawing many potential apprentice chefs into construction-related industries.



The impact of automation

Not all areas of the industry experienced an increase. Job ads for travel agents/consultants slipped by 2% year-on-year over the same three-month period. McLean attributes this to a growing automation of these roles. “Traditionally, a career as a travel agent was seen as attractive for young people because they thought they’d get to travel the world,” she says. “Now so many people book their own travel online. However, we are seeing growth in some areas and employers are even recruiting from the retail sector to find the right talent.”

There were other areas of the industry that saw a decline in job ads over the same period. Bar and beverage staff saw a decline in job ads of 7% year-on-year in the three-month period from July to September and job ads for tour guides were down by 12%.



Recruitment challenges

McLean says finding the right talent in a competitive market can be challenging. “Demand is high but employers aren’t just looking for anyone,” she says. “They want the best.”

Binney adds that employers consistently look for well-polished interpersonal skills. “What we look for in anyone is the ability to interact well with guests and people in general,” he says. “It's a people industry and personality is key. There are all those clichés around hire a personality, train a skill, but I think that's very much a truism in the hotel side and tourism in general.”

Convincing potential candidates that hospitality and tourism represents a long-term rewarding career remain an ongoing challenge for employers and Binney is quick to point out the industry’s key selling points. “It's an industry where you literally get to travel the world,” he says.  “You get to meet a whole lot of different people and you can test a range of skills on a daily basis, from customer service to budgeting and crisis management. It's an industry that gets into your blood and it's pretty hard to get out. There are a lot of long-serving people in this industry and they get a lot of personal satisfaction from it.


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