Local insights report: February 2023

Canterbury local insights report for February 2023.

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

Top regional insights

A Pathways Leadership Breakfast is being held in Christchurch on 9 March 2023 to bring together industry leaders and school leadership. The Ministry of Education, Canterbury Regional Skills Leadership Group, Ministry of Social Development and Christchurch NZ have partnered together to organise and host the event. The breakfast will focus on identifying, discussing and creating opportunities for businesses and schools to better connect. The event will also provide an opportunity to establish practical follow up actions that will enable stronger connections between schools and industry in the future.

A disabled-led employment programme Mahi Tika – Equity in Employment is currently being delivered by the Disabled Persons Assembly NZ (DPA). Angela Desmarais (DPA’s Research and Development Advisor) is having discussions with employers nationwide around inclusive recruitment practices and conducting research on the employment experiences of disabled people. The research will then help identify gaps in supported employment services and identify regions where programmes like Mahi Tika – Equity in Employment could make an impact.

Opportunity to become a Regional Skills Leadership Group member or Co-chair. Due to the expiry of some member and Co-chair terms in June 2023, MBIE are currently advertising a number of vacancies on RSLGs around the country, including Canterbury. The membership of each RSLG is linked to the workforce needs and interests in that region – workers/unions, employers/industry, iwi/hapū/Māori, community reps and more are being sought.

Trends at a glance

With a ranking of 228, Christchurch jumped 168 places in the 2022 Global Start-Up Ecosystem Index report to now be in the top 250 in the world. There were 126 start-ups per 1,000 businesses in Christchurch up from 115 in 2021. This is the largest improvement in rankings the authors have ever seen.
Source: The Global Startup Ecosystem Index Report 2022(external link) — StartupBlink

Employment of Waimakariri residents continues to grow strongly, up 3.9% over the year to December 2022, outpacing the national growth of 2.5%. Waimakariri’s growth has been broad-based, reflecting that the district continues to attract a range of new residents working in Christchurch.
Source: Enterprise North Canterbury Quarterly Economic Monitor

Canterbury had 8,109 jobs advertised in December 2022, an increase of 2.7% compared to December 2021.
Source: Employment indicators: December 2022(external link) — Statistics NZ

Labour market opportunities

A new initiative ‘Retirement Temps’ is in the planning stages. Retirement Temps is an innovative, Canterbury based approach to addressing skill and labour shortages by attracting older and retired workers back into the workforce. There are various reasons for people wanting to re-enter the workforce later in life, and initial polling suggests there is reasonable interest from this population group to reengage in full-time, part-time or casual work. The concept is in the early planning stages, but signs are positive that it will bring additional labour to the market.

For more information(external link) — Retirement Temps

The Limitless Conference will inspire and equip Year 10 students with more confidence in making career decisions. The fifth Limitless Conference will run for one and a half days from 13 March 2023. It is a regionally run event and topics include transferable skills, job clusters and values. The intention is for students to leave the conference inspired and with more confidence in what they can offer an employer.

SmartNZ’s Secondary School Employer Partnerships (SSEP) is supporting the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) goal to increase the sector’s available workforce. MPI’s aim is for New Zealand’s primary industry to be employing 10% more New Zealanders by 2030, including 10,000 more in the food and fibre workforce over the next 4 years. Through SSEP, Canterbury schools can partner with a wide range of employers to support contextualised learning in the food and fibre sector for Year 9 & 10 students. Examples include animal and plant health; biosecurity; environmental science; and research & development. The programme provides a ‘real world’ application of the curriculum and exposes students to a wide range of career opportunities inside and outside of the classroom. The SSEP framework is adapted to fit each school’s kaupapa, curriculum and local industries.

Labour market challenges

Growth of the Canterbury’s tech sector is being constrained by a lack of skilled and experienced staff. Although the sector is growing at a faster rate than in any other New Zealand region, it is not able to maximise the opportunities available. There is a desire in the sector to develop home grown talent, however the workload demands of existing experienced staff is prohibiting their ability to invest in supervising and supporting those who are inexperienced. Increased access to skilled staff to support the training of locals is key to ensuring Canterbury can overcome this limitation and embrace continued growth into the future.

The cessation of the Targeted Training Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) on 31 December 2022 has removed the incentive for some to engage in training. TTAF made a range of training and apprenticeship programmes at sub-degree level free for learners and it was targeted towards industry skill needs where demand from employers will continue to be strong. Historically, when the labour market softens, displaced workers move into training and education. With inflation remaining high, and concerns of a recession grow, it becomes more likely that the local labour market will experience negative impacts. Should that happen, the TTAF is a good investment as it provides a pathway to prepare people for when demand for workers returns.

Skilled staff are in short supply for a local manufacturing company whose focus is maintaining and building their business in New Zealand. The company is relocating work from offshore back to Canterbury, which is creating opportunities. They have a number of young people in training roles who will eventually move to more senior roles and/or become skilled operators – however, it will take time. Due to the current labour shortages in New Zealand, the company believe that access to skilled labour through immigration is needed to support the training process. Roles in particular need are machine operators and skilled welders.

Regional workforce plan (RWP) update

Implementation of Canterbury’s Regional Workforce Plan is underway, with many of the actions gaining momentum. For example:

  • Workplace diversity: Research is helping to identify the different types of diversity programmes and opportunities in Canterbury. The RSLG has met with a provider, Diversity Works, which gave the group the opportunity to better understand the work they have underway nationally and within the Canterbury region. This information will support the identification of further opportunities for the region.
  • Migration settings: The RSLG have engaged with Immigration NZ and are working with other key partners to gather information, insights and data so that they are able to identify and set out the impact of migration settings in the 2023 Regional Workforce Plan refresh.
  • Best practice workplaces: RSLG members are engaging with businesses and other relevant organisations to better understand evidence-based models on what makes a good employer. There has been engagement with living wage accredited organisations as well as diversity groups, to ensure that this work meets the needs of both businesses and employees.

Our focus for the next 3 months:

  • Continue to progress the actions in the Canterbury Regional Workforce Plan
  • Undertake labour market analysis and insights on the disabled workforce that will help inform the 2023 refresh of the Regional Workforce Plan
  • Support the recruitment activity underway for RSLG membership and Co-Chair roles

Previous local insights reports