Regional Skills Leadership Groups

Independent advisory groups identifying and supporting better ways of meeting future regional skills and workforce needs across Aotearoa.

The 15 Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs) are independent advisory groups that are locally based and regionally led. They identify and support better ways to meet future skills and workforce needs in their regions, both now and in the future, and advise on actions to address these.

RSLGs are part of a joined-up approach to labour market planning that will see our workforce, education and immigration systems working together to better meet the differing skills needs across the motu. They are a fundamental part of the drive to build productive, inclusive, sustainable and resilient regions.

Their work is complemented by other initiatives targeting population groups, sectors and regional economic development. This includes:

  • The Government’s Employment Strategy
  • Employment Action Plans
  • Industry Transformation Plans
  • Identification of Regional Economic Priorities. 

RSLGs also sit as part of the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) and will work closely with the Workforce Development Councils.

Locally based and regionally led

RSLGs have a broad, well-connected membership of regional leaders. They provide a regional voice on workforce issues that is grounded in local knowledge, experience and insights. RSLGs focus on addressing current and future regional workforce opportunities and challenges at a regional level wherever possible.

The groups are supported by a secretariat of analysts, advisors and workforce specialists provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). The MBIE secretariat works with other government agencies to support the RSLGs.

Making a difference on the ground

RSLGs lead coordination of labour market planning within their regions. They bring together different groups with a stake in workforce development to identify and address regional priorities together.

The groups make sure under-represented voices are heard and that planning reflects both the demand side (employers) and supply side (workers). Working with their regional partners, RSLGs will help to achieve:

  • A more coordinated labour market view that takes account of Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles and equity for priority groups.
  • Current and future workforce needs for our regions and cities are accessible and understood.
  • Our education, welfare and immigration agencies are better connected through regional labour market planning and delivery, reflecting partnership, equity and Kaupapa Māori.
  • Regional education, training and upskilling is responsive to the needs of learners and employers at all stages.
  • Greater ease for businesses to employ New Zealanders with the skills required for current and future jobs.
  • All skills and labour market activities are connected and informed by the same data and evidence.

RSLGs develop Regional Workforce Plans, which set out regional aspirations, priorities, and actions for current and future workforce skills development in their regions. 

The groups also regularly share insights on regional workforce issues through Local Insight Reports. The reports reflect the factors and sectors that are critical for each region. They are helping to develop a shared understanding of the local labour market and trigger regional conversations.

Regional Workforce Plan updates 2023

RSLGs refresh their Regional Workforce Plans annually. The refresh is an opportunity for the Groups to provide updates on activity set out in their 2022 plans, and updated analysis, insights, and advice.

Some refreshed plans include new sectors or areas of focus. RSLGs in regions affected by the 2023 extreme weather events in the North Island, have highlighted the immediate workforce impacts and need for workforce and skills planning, for the longer-term recovery.

Regional Workforce Plans

RSLGs released their first Regional Workforce Plans in 2022.

Each Regional Workforce Plan is unique to its region and reflects the sectors, opportunities, challenges, demographics and previous labour market planning within that region. RSLGs have built on existing work so activity isn’t duplicated.

The plans identify priority sectors and note that other sectors will be considered in future versions – Regional Workforce Plans will be refreshed annually. They reflect engagement with stakeholders, which is an important and ongoing part of RSLG mahi.

Regional Workforce Plans largely focus on regional solutions to regional problems but also suggest actions at central government level where regional solutions may not be possible or the challenge or opportunity is a national one.

In early 2023, central government agencies released a response to RSLGs’ first workforce plans. More than 25 agencies were involved in this response.

Cross-agency response to the first Regional Workforce Plans

Influencing local initiatives

The groups inform, coordinate and create links with local initiatives that impact their region’s workforce supply. This means that over time:

  • Schools and careers advisors get clearer information about current and future skills that will be in demand, to support school leavers to make good career decisions.
  • Employers and schools get support to connect to attract school leavers into local training and jobs that will be needed.
  • Employers can act on the groups’ advice to tackle barriers to employment and productivity growth by pooling resources and offering attractive job opportunities.
  • Training providers, skills hubs and local economic development initiatives have the right information to tailor their programmes to meet their region’s labour force and skills needs.

Informing government activities and decisions

Our education, welfare and immigration agencies, along with other government departments looking at workforce issues, use Regional Workforce Plans to understand regional future workforce needs.

The Tertiary Education Commission takes the plans into account when making investment decisions. Regional Workforce Plans also inform other government agency investment and decision-making, such as targeted employment and welfare support and supporting the temporary migration system to be more responsive to regional labour market needs.

Local insights reports

Local insights reports are prepared by RSLGs for their regions and regional stakeholders.

You are welcome to quote from any report below – please attribute these to [Region name] Regional Skills Leadership Group, an independent advisory group on regional skills and workforce development. ​

Most recent reports


Tāmaki Makaurau


Bay of Plenty


Hawke’s Bay


Hawke’s Bay





Nelson Tasman

Te Tai Poutini West Coast



Southland Murihiku

View all local insight reports(external link)

Related work

The RSLG mahi supports the move towards a better approach to workforce and skills planning so the supply of skills and workers and the sector needs and opportunities in each region are better balanced. RSLGs are a key part of the Government’s Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) to create a strong, unified, sustainable vocational education system fit for the future. You may also be interested in:

Reform of Vocational Education(external link) — Tertiary Education Commission

Workforce Development Councils(external link) — Ohu Mahi

Immigration Rebalance(external link) — New Zealand Immigration

Industry Transformation Plans 

Employment Strategy and Employment Action Plans 

Supporting documents

Regional Skills Leadership Groups were formed in June 2020 with an immediate focus on the impact of COVID-19 on the regional workforce. Permanent future-focused RSLGs were set up in August 2021 and have built on the work of drawn on the work of the interim groups.

Handover documents

The secretariat supporting RSLGs prepared handover documents for the permanent groups, containing regional labour market and skills intel and an industry, welfare and education profile of each region. Data was taken at a point in time and may have been updated since.

View all the handover documents(external link)

Contact us

Last updated: 24 October 2023 Last reviewed: 06 November 2023