SEEK Employment Trends New Zealand: January 2016, insurance and superannuation candidates in hot demand

When it comes to the job market, even a modest increase in demand is surely a good sign. This was the case for New Zealand in January 2016. Data from the SEEK Employment Trends report showed a year-on-year increase in the country’s job ads of almost 5% compared to the same time last year.

Candidates within insurance and superannuation were in hot demand, followed by real estate and property. On the flip side, the CEO and general management sector saw a decline in job ads, and the banking and financial services sector also experienced a dip in demand.

Trends across the country

The Auckland region saw the greatest year-on-year spike in job ads in January 2016. The insurance and superannuation sector led the way with an increase of 81% compared to the same time last year.

Brien Keegan, New Zealand Country Manager of recruitment firm Randstad, believes this increase is due to two key reasons. “I think it’s a combination of growing wealth because of rapidly increasing house prices and the growth in maturity of the superannuation industry,” he says. “This is not just centred in Auckland, but certainly the region has a sense of buoyancy and optimism.”

Auckland’s construction sector also saw a healthy increase in demand in January 2016, with a 19% lift compared to the same time last year. “This is fuelled by a lack of supply of housing in the region and the subsequent property boom that that’s creating,” says Keegan.

The regions of Northland, Bay of Plenty and Otago also saw an upward trend in demand over the past four months. The Wellington region experienced a small year-on-year increase in job ads for January and its farming, animals and conservation sector was out in front. Interestingly, while job ads for mining, resources and energy are generally down across the country, Wellington saw a 25% year-on-year increase in demand for this sector.

Demand in Canterbury appeared positive in key sectors leading into 2016. Demand in the consulting and strategy sector increased by 53% in the three months leading to December 2015 compared to the same time the year before. Call centre and customer service roles were also up by 30% for the same period, and demand in the science and technology sector spiked by 24% during this time.

Janet Faulding, General Manager of SEEK New Zealand says there is more to the Canterbury region than earthquake-related construction. “Over the last 24 months, the opportunities for work were largely dominated by the rebuild, so it is encouraging to see more industries feeling confident to take on employees,” she says. “Many Cantabrians are likely to be surprised at how diverse their employment market is heading into 2016.”

Industries rise and fall

New Zealand’s tourism sector now surpasses the dairy industry as the country’s number one export. In January 2016, the hospitality and tourism sector grew by 5% year-on-year.There’s great demand within this sector,” says Keegan. “But, on the other end of the spectrum, the dairy industry is facing challenges due to low dairy prices.” Despite this, demand in the farming, animals and conservation sector grew by 14% compared to the same time last year.

The retail and consumer goods sector also experienced stronger demand in January 2016 compared to the same time last year, with job ads increasing by 13%. “We’re starting to see global retail chains, like Topshop, opening here,” says Keegan. “While we haven’t had large wage growth in the past five years or so, we haven’t had large amounts of inflation either. I think the buoyancy in the main centres is driving that retail spending, so some retailers are doing really well right now.”

One of the sectors to experience a sharp drop in demand is that of CEO and general management, which was down by 31%. Keegan says there is still healthy demand for leadership roles; however, he is seeing growth in demand for positions such CFOs and CIOs.

Although New Zealand’s information and communication technology sector experienced a year-on-year drop in job ads of 12%, Keegan says demand remains positive within the sector, particularly in the area of software development. “Perhaps there’s not the same level of exponential growth at the moment, but there’s still consistent growth,” he says.

Salaries appear to be stabilising

Although the average advertised salaries saw a mild decline in mid-2015, they now appear to be stabilising. The SEEK Employment Trends report shows that this is consistent with an overall pick-up in job advertising in late 2015.

Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand’s two largest labour markets, experienced small declines in salaries over the past four months; however, steady salary rates in areas such as Canterbury, and a slight growth in some sectors in the West Coast, created a stable balance.

Advertised salaries are increasing in industries associated with the rebuilding of Christchurch, after the 2011 earthquake. These include housing-related sectors, such as trades and services, design and architecture, and construction, as well as administration and office support.

Overall key industries such as insurance and superannuation, construction, and retail and consumer products helped set a positive tone for New Zealand’s job market in January 2016. Let’s hope the trend continues.

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