Local insights report: August 2023

Wellington region local insights report for August 2023.

Top regional insights

The Wellington regions working age population has grown (2%) after remaining steady for 3 years

The region’s working age population grew by 9,000 in the year to June 2023, to reach 453,300. Some of this increase is due to population increase as the under 15s move into the working age population, however the majority of this growth is likely to come from migration as the number of migrant workers increased by 3,648 in the year to May 2023. 40% of these migrant workers filled vacancies in 3 industries:

  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Accommodation and Food Services
  • Administrative and Support Services.

The Admin & Support industry contains the Employment Services subindustry which is made up of Employment Placement and Recruitment Services, and Labour Supply Services. For this reason, Construction industry workers may be counted in this category.

Business leaders are gloomy about the region’s economic outlook, as costs remain high, and people are spending less

Shops and cafes are reducing their opening hours to avoid additional staffing costs and residential construction firms are struggling to find new work. Public service cost-cutting is affecting our large professional services industry, and there is international pressure on the screen sector. Although the region’s unemployment rate remains low at 2.8%, many expect this to grow in the next quarter.

Māori business networks are growing and strengthening Māori businesses

Networks are active in Otaki, Porirua, Wellington and Wairarapa and are working together to foster entrepreneurship. In July, Te Matarau a Māui hosted Tipu Pakihi, the region’s first Māori business symposium, to help Māori businesses make strong connections, deliver results together and flourish. Delivered over 2 days, more than 160 people attended this successful event and heard about Māori business experiences, support services and new initiatives being developed to support enterprise in the region.

Tipu Pakihi(external link) — Te Matarau a Māui

In Wairarapa, Māori in Business Wairarapa drew more than 50 participants, including new businesses to the region. Māori businesses are significant employers of Māori and play a key role in developing our workforce – Māori employment is a priority in our regional workforce plan.

Māori in Business Wairarapa(external link) — MBIW

Regional activities


Local health workforce

28 internationally trained nurses are studying in Masterton to gain professional registration, allowing them to work as nurses in New Zealand. They will be seeking employment from mid-October, and the Wairarapa community hopes many will remain in the district to fill shortages in the local health workforce.

Demand for registered nurses in Wairarapa is expected to grow by 20% by 2028.

  • Source: Infometrics 'Occupation Employment' data set - 2022 and 2028 (forecast). Regions included: Carterton District, Masterton District, South Wairarapa District. Exported 24 February 2023.

Health science academy (HSA) programme

The Central Pacific Collective and its partners are in the early stages of exploring with Te Whatu Ora the possibility of bringing a health science academy (HSA) programme for Pacific secondary school students to the Wellington region.

Health science academy (HSA) programme(external link) — Quality accounts

The HSA programme was piloted in Auckland by Te Whatu Ora and is a partnership with schools across the Auckland region to support students to realise their potential in a health career. This programme will help increase awareness of careers in our region and enrolment in STEM subjects (Action 4 and 5) and build a more equitable health workforce.

Kāinga Ora are using procurement levers to encourage employers to hire local workers

Kāinga Ora are contracting for work on Te Rā Nui, its major housing development in Eastern Porirua. It will add weightings into its procurement to achieve this. This will drive more employment opportunities across a range of roles in construction and infrastructure for people living in the area.


Our region’s digital technology businesses are hunkering down

Many are restructuring and downsizing, making it harder to find placements for interns and new graduates. Other parts of the sector are unaffected by the slow down and are still seeking migrants to fill specialised roles. Some people that have lost their tech jobs are seeking opportunities to develop business skills as they are looking to set up their own consulting businesses.

Slowing growth in our region’s screen sector is threatening future job opportunities

As the strike in the United States continues, fewer films are being produced in Wellington region and we are increasingly competing with Auckland for the available business. Our screen industry’s baseline of work remains solid for now, but we need to attract new productions to the region soon to sustain employment in this sector.

Insights suggest more people are taking up second jobs in order to meet the cost of living

With the rapid rise in mortgage rates people fear they will lose their homes. This is affecting people with good full-time jobs, such as health administrators and teachers, who are working in the evening or the weekend to pay the bills.

Regional workforce plan update

Wellington RSLG is coordinating implementation of the Wellington Regional Workforce Plan. The plan has 5 focus areas: maximising workforce, skills development, building connections, thriving workplaces, and supporting young people.

Wellington Regional Workforce Plan

Maximising Workforce

Wellington RSLG met with leaders of:

  • social procurement from Kāinga Ora
  • Ministry of Education
  • Wellington City Council
  • Civil Contractors NZ.

They discussed ways to extend employment and skills development opportunities through procurement. The discussion provided some practical steps the group will explore to implement Action 3 of the RWP. 

Building Connections

Wellington RSLG and partners convened a meeting of regional construction and infrastructure sector leaders to establish a sector workforce group. Attendance was high and there was strong support for the concept.

The construction & infrastructure sector workforce group will be a region-wide platform to respond to trends and challenges in the sector’s workforce, find solutions and coordinate regionally.

Attendees identified several key workforce issues to be addressed, setting the direction for a work programme. The first working meeting will take place on 10 October 2023.

Trends at a glance

  • 9,000 people joined Wellington region’s working age population in the year to June 2023. This is the fourth largest increase in the country, after Tāmaki Makaurau, Canterbury, and Waikato.
  • The number of under 15-year-olds in our region is dropping and is forecast to decrease by 9% by 2028, compared to the Total NZ forecast decrease of 6.4 % over the same time period.
  • 32.1% growth is forecast in our 65+ population between 2023-2028, compared to a 2.6 % increase in our 15–64-year-old population.

Source: Statistics NZ population estimates.

Last updated: 26 September 2023