Appendix 1: Regional workforce outlook
Strong employment growth
Growth in employment in Taitokerau Region is above the New Zealand average, up 3.1 per cent in March 2022 from a year earlier, while national employment only increased by 3 per cent during the same period. In 2022, employment in the Far North was lower than Kaipara and Whangārei, up 2.4 per cent while both Kaipara and Whangārei grew 3.5 per cent.
Far North, Kaipara and Whangārei employment growth
Growth in the number of jobs in the Far North slowed in 2022, off a peak in 2017, but there are still 3,453 more jobs since 2017. Job growth also peaked in 2017 in Whangārei, but the number of jobs remains 6,132 higher now. For Kaipara the growth in jobs peaked in 2018 when it increased 4.6 per cent. Once again, the number of jobs will remain higher (up by 463).
Strong economic growth (GDP)
Driving the growth in jobs, economic growth has been strong in the region in the past 10 years, averaging 3.2 per cent per annum, above the wider New Zealand average which was 3 per cent per annum. Economic performance of the Taitokerau region during the year to March 2022, in terms of GDP for the region, was $9,485 million, up 4.7 per cent from a year earlier.
Far North, Kaipara and Whangārei GDP growth
Across Taitokerau the Whangārei area contributed almost 60 per cent to the region’s growth, while the Far North contributed 30 per cent and Kaipara contributed 10.5 per cent. The region accounted for 2.7 per cent of national GDP in 2022.1 Across the sub-regions in Taitokerau, Whangārei was 1.53 per cent of the national GDP, Kaipara 0.29 per cent and the Far North 0.83 per cent.
Among broad industries, manufacturing was the largest in the Northland Region in 2022 accounting for 13.5 per cent of total GDP. The bulk of the contribution comes from the Whangārei area and is in petroleum and coal manufacturing, which is likely to diminish over the coming years as the Marsden Point Refinery changes its function from a refinery to bulk storage. Despite the Marsden Point Refinery closure there was still an increase of 8.6 per cent in employment across the broader manufacturing sector in 2022. The increases in employment were modest but widely spread amongst fruit, cereal and other food; wood products; textiles, leather and clothing; and dairy product manufacturing.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing growth and significance
Agriculture, forestry and fishing remain a significant and increasingly important sector for the Taitokerau economy. It is the second largest contribution to GDP (9.8 per cent). For the past twenty years it has been the second most significant sector and is likely to go to first place with the closure of the refinery. The largest contribution to GDP for this sector comes from the Far North (39.8 per cent) lead by dairy farming, and followed by forestry and logging. 34.5 per cent came from the Whangārei district and was led by dairy farming, and 25.7 per cent from Kaipara led by dairy farming with sheep, beef and cattle farming close behind.
Less land in dairying
There are now 12,822 fewer hectares dedicated to dairy farming and fewer cows, but milk fat production is greater than a decade ago, indicating an improvement in on-farm productivity.
Modest growth in dairying employment expected
Modest growth in job openings is forecast in the coming five years with under one-hundred people required each year to replace those retiring or leaving the sector. Total employment in dairy farming in 2028 is forecast to be at a similar level as now –about 2,187 jobs.
Housing shortage drives construction performance and employment
Housing remains a critical need for the communities of Taitokerau and central, local and private investment has been strong. As a result, the construction sector was a strong contributor to the region’s economic performance (GDP) in the year 2022 (8 per cent). The contribution from the local authority areas were reasonably similar at 7.4 per cent in the Far North, with Whangārei and Kaipara at 8.2 per cent and 8.3 per cent respectively.
Demand for training remains
Employment levels in construction are forecast to peak in 2023, with a forecasted 9 per cent decline out to 2028. However, there will still be a strong demand for training and apprenticeships as many in the sector retire or leave. An average of about 475 people per year are needed to fill job openings in the coming 5 years. Most will be in electrical, plumbing and air conditioning and heating jobs.
Non-residential construction employment growth forecast
Growth sectors over the next five years will be in heavy and civil engineering, and non-residential building construction. While the strong growth of these past years will not be repeated in residential construction it will remain one of the top areas of employment in construction.
Industries or sectors that made a lower but not insignificant contribution to the region’s economic performance were health care and social services. In Whangārei, given the presence of the largest hospital in the region, the contribution is higher than construction at 9.3 per cent.
Rental, hiring and real estate services in the Far North were ahead of construction, health care and manufacturing, at 9.5 per cent, and was only behind agriculture in contribution.
While in the Kaipara region the rental, hiring and real estate services were the fourth largest contribution at 7.0 per cent behind agriculture, manufacturing and construction.
Softening employment demand indicated – Demand for labour in Taitokerau does appear to be softening in the March 2023 year, with declines in on-line job advertising, down 15.5 per cent year-on-year. However, it is unclear if the recent weather events have impacted demand, but the declines in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Gisborne/Hawkes Bay and Taitokerau do differ from the usual pattern at this time of year.2 Infometrics estimate job growth in
Taitokerau to flatten in the next three years and to jump up in 2026, from less than 1 per cent growth to nearly 2 per cent growth in 2026, climbing to 2.1 per cent by 2028.
Taitokerau has a perennial mismatch in labour supply and demand in the higher skilled jobs. Generally, most workers are training at levels 1 to 3 (i.e., NCEA level) and level 4 (i.e., trade certified) but very few are training at higher levels which is where the demand is.
Over the next 5 years, growth in demand is estimated to be in the following occupations:
- Sports and personal services which will increase 3.3% per annum (Includes beauty therapists, driving instructors, funeral workers, gallery and tour guides, weightloss consultants, travel consultants, flight attendants, and fitness instructors)
- ICT Professionals – 2.8% per annum.
- Health and welfare support workers – 2.6% per annum.
- Carers and aides – 2.5% per annum.
- Health professionals – 2.4% per annum.
Sub-regional job openings
Job openings for education and health professionals will be the greatest across the region due to workers retiring or leaving sectors. In the Far North the forecast job openings will also be for education professionals – largely schoolteachers – while there is a greater number of job openings for specialist's managers in main business administration, as well as for construction, distribution and production managers. The demand for health carers and nurses is not likely to diminish in coming years. This is driven by an ageing and growing population. In Kaipara, the growth in demand forecast is to be for the following occupations: schoolteachers, followed by health professionals, health and welfare support workers, carers and aides. Once again, demand is driven by an ageing and growing population.