Local insights report: August 2023

Taranaki Regional Skills Leadership Group (RSLG) local insights report for August 2023.

Top regional insights – what we've heard

Finding kaimahi (workers) to fill entry level roles is difficult for Taranaki employers

They are struggling to fill entry level roles, and we’ve particularly heard from hospitality, security, cleaning/housekeeping, and caregiving. Employers are exploring different ways to attract underutilised kaimahi, including parents with school-aged children. Notably, employers are becoming more willing to accommodate job candidates who can only work during school hours, in the face of worker shortages. For example, while they cannot have a lot of flexibility with caregiving roles, some rest homes are now offering roles of about four hours a day spending one-on-one time with residents. However, according to some employers the perception of their industries is proving to be a major barrier to recruitment.

Farmers are anticipating a tough year ahead 

Local farmers are experiencing increasing pressure on their profit margins with the downward trend in commodity prices for lamb, beef, and milk. Fonterra have further revised down their milk pay-out estimate for the 23/24 season. Farmers are anticipating a tough year ahead as these falling commodity prices, along with high interest rates, mean there are farmers running their businesses at or even below break-even this year. This is going to be felt widely in the Taranaki region as the agriculture sector is both a large employer and producer. The flow on impacts will also reach far into other part of the labour market that rely directly and indirectly on this sector. Moreover, the pressure on farmers in particular highlights the need for a resilient workforce that prioritises support for wellbeing.

Trends at a glance

Number of people who were underemployed increased

The number of people who were underemployed (employed but would prefer to work more) in Taranaki increased from 2.0% in June 2022, to 3.4% in June 2023. This indicates that although the labour market is tight, we are seeing  an increase in those that are willing to work more hours.  

Reduced NEET rate

Taranaki has reduced their NEET rate (those aged 20-24 not in employment education or training), over the last 2 quarters. The NEET rate currently sits at 15.5% for the June 2023 quarter, much lower compared to 24.7% and 36.1% in December 2022 and March 2023 respectively.

Total unemployment rate increased

Total unemployment rate in Taranaki increased by 3.1 percentage points compared to the June 2022 quarter.  The current unemployment rate is 4.9% compared to 1.8% this time last year. This follows a national trend of increased unemployment this quarter, which saw an increase from 3.3% in June 2022 to 3.6% in June 2023.

Opportunities and challenges

Taranaki Forestry and Conservation course

A cohort of learners has recently graduated from a 17-week Taranaki Forestry and Conservation course and are now equipped with the skills needed to enter the forestry and conservation sector. The course was run by Tree Machine Services and was funded by Hāwera Chamber of Commerce, Mayors Taskforce for Jobs and the Ministry of Social Development. All 11 graduates from the previous intake were successfully placed into work after the course was completed.

Concerns around Te Pūkenga’s restructure

Concerns around Te Pūkenga’s restructure and what that means for local job losses are being voiced locally. WITT Te Pūkenga could potentially lose 8 percent of its kaimahi in the planned restructure. Taranaki RSLG are working closely with the Executive Directors for Rohe 3 (Taranaki, Manawatū-Whanganui, Wellington and top of the South Island) to understand these workforce impacts. 

Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) system

Many Taranaki employers are reporting the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) system is working well and that becoming accredited for visa approval is relatively straightforward. While the ease of this process is being celebrated by employers, other regional voices are considering the impacts this system will have on housing availability and for employment positions for local rangatahi. 

RSLG spotlight on success — Building wellness Taranaki 

Building Wellness Taranaki (BWT) is a locally and industry-led charitable trust established to improve the wellbeing outcomes of the Taranaki construction industry through the delivery of wellbeing promotion and suicide prevention programmes that are tailored to needs of kaimahi and leadership, based on research and evidence-based practice.

Building Wellness Taranaki held their Annual General Meeting in New Plymouth on 25 July. Campbell Mattson, Chairperson BWT, outlined the challenges faced by those in the construction industry. High demand for work coupled with a tight labour market and supply chain disruptions resulted in a turbulent 12 months for the sector. The sustained pressure on the sector has resulted in many businesses facing downsizing or at least considering it as their project pipelines begin to run dry. Building Wellness Taranaki recognise these challenges and positions itself squarely in their path.

Christina Lorth, General Manager BWT, outlined progress the trust has made towards alleviating these pressures and supporting the wellbeing of the kaimahi in the sector. 143 construction workers and leaders have been trained in BWT’s level 1 Buddy and Leading Wellbeing workshop, with participants reporting a 95% satisfaction rate.

The Quarterly ‘Tools to Talk’ breakfast events and ‘Tradies Tools Down’ initiatives have also succeeded in bringing industry together to promote the wellbeing of kaimahi and leaders, with reports of help-seeking and service engagement increasing following the event. BWT are looking to hold the next Tools to Talk event in September. 

For more information or to join as a member of BWT, visit:

Building Wellness Taranaki(external link)

Or contact Christina Lorth:

Regional Workforce Plan

The Taranaki Regional Workforce Plan Refresh 2023 was recently published. The plan is an addition to, rather than a replacement of the first Regional Workforce Plan published in 2022. The RSLG have looked for regional solutions to regional challenges, to meet our role of helping to guide, support, and co-ordinate Taranaki’s regional labour market.

The Regional Workforce Plan Refresh identifies 2 focus areas:

  • Hauora and Wellbeing the Construction sector
  • Kaiāwhina Health workforce

The RSLG have committed to a further 3 actions and have made one recommendation in the plan.

To support and affirm what we have heard from real voices right across our region, the RSLG also published a Regional Data Snapshot. This should be read alongside our Regional Workforce Plan to gain the fullest and most comprehensive understanding of the story of our region. Additionally, we have provided an update on action progress from our first Regional Workforce Plan.

Taranaki Regional Workforce Plans

Prepared by the regionally led Taranaki Regional Skills Leadership Group.

For further information, contact:


Last updated: 15 August 2023