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The report, commissioned by Activate Tairawhiti, identified an additional total workforce requirement over the next 10 years of an estimated 3500-5000 people across the region’s six biggest industries.

Labour market report forecasts many new jobs

29 October 2016, Andrew Ashton, The Gisborne Herald

A NEW report has suggested that thousands of new recruits will be needed to fill Gisborne’s growing job market over the next decade, adding as much as $180 million to the region’s combined wage pool. 

Download the report:  Tairawhiti-Gisborne-LM-Report-Oct2016.pdf

However, with a rapidly ageing population a concerted effort will be needed to ensure the region takes full advantage of those opportunities.

The report, commissioned by Activate Tairawhiti, identified an additional total workforce requirement over the next 10 years of an estimated 3500-5000 people across the region’s six biggest industries.

The 30-page report estimates the horticultural and forestry sectors would need an additional 1800 people, while the region’s trucking fleet would need to find about a dozen additional drivers every year for the next four years to add to the existing 600-member workforce.

The forestry industry and associated flow-on industries could possibly double in size, and the region’s tourism sector could need another 1535 additional workers by 2026.

Activate Tairawhiti chief executive Steve Breen said one of the key takeouts from the report was that the region was ideally placed to create career paths for its young people.

“The reason for the report is that we were aware of a number of industries showing job growth but there was no clear picture of the number and types of jobs that were being created. This is against a backdrop of persistently high unemployment, which restricts people’s ability to reach their full potential, contribute to the health and wellbeing of their community and lead fulfilling lives.

Developing workforce to raise prosperity

“If everyone in the region has a clear understanding of where the jobs growth is taking place, then we’re better able to invest the time, training and resources into developing a workforce that can match the work available, capture the wealth that our industries are creating and raise the prosperity of the region.”

But the report also pointed out that there would be an estimated 38 percent rise in the number of those over the age of 65, with the region’s pensioner population estimated to swell by 2680.

At the same time, the region's working age population was estimated to experience a decline of 930 people (a 3.2 percent decline), while national estimates suggested a 5.3 percent rise in the working age population and 40 percent rise in over 65s across the country.

Mr Breen said while initially the focus would be on enabling local talent to fill the expected vacancies, Activate Tairawhiti expected that in the future there would be more vacancies than the local population could fill.

“Given the number of jobs expected to be created, we have a wonderful opportunity to attract new talent to the region that creates increased demand for our goods and services, fills our town centre, our schools and sports clubs, and creates a prosperous community.

“The region now has a collective opportunity to secure its long-term future and prosperity. We are already seeing employers, training providers, central government and our community working on practical actions to produce a suitably skilled and motivated workforce to take advantage of the investment in growth being made by our local employers.”

Labour shortages

The report noted all businesses and industry sectors interviewed for the report had already experienced skilled labour shortages that were adversely affecting business performance.

“Unless concerted real action is taken to address the various workforce issues identified in this report, the region will be unable to reap the full economic and community benefits of the forecast significant growth in production, processing/manufacturing and industry servicing activity,” the report said.

It pointed out if only half of the forecast additional labour requirement was taken up, the region stood to lose between $70m and $90m in salaries.

Examples of skilled shortages included food technologists, scientists, forklift drivers, harvest managers and planners, mechanical engineers, silviculture staff, engineering apprentices, diesel mechanics and truck drivers, as well as tourism business managers.

Activate Tairawhiti economic development project manager Kim Holland said the report’s focus was to identify employment opportunities and to work with key stakeholders including iwi, Kimihia He Oranga and other appropriate organisations to determine agreed actions to address the workforce issues facing the region.

“The focus is firstly on working with our people, to identify, develop and use our local talent and labour pool. It is also about building capability of existing employees and staff through further training and development.”

Due to the shortfall of people entering the labour force, and an increase in the number of people exiting (via retirement) there would also be the need to look at attracting some skilled migrants to the region.

“Some employers are already doing this and we are also looking at how to connect the education and training sectors to meet the needs of industry.

“Examples of areas where we do require workers that fit Immigration NZ’s immediate skills shortage list are in forestry, agriculture, horticulture, including agronomists and winemakers/viticulturalists, engineering and trades.

“Transport and trucking as a national industry already has a shortage of more than 22,000 drivers.”

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