Kupu Whakataki | Introduction

The RSI Workforce Survey of Organisations is a new survey by MBIE designed to improve our understanding of Aotearoa New Zealand’s RSI workforce, and our RSI organisations’ workforce policies.

The Survey was conducted between November 2021 and March 2022. MBIE collected data on both workforce characteristics and organisational workforce policies in a number of thematic areas.

Mō te rangahau | About the survey

In November 2021, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) launched Te Rangahau Ohu Mahi a Te Rangahau Pūtaiao me Te Auahatanga | Research, Science, and Innovation (RSI) Workforce Survey (the Survey). The Survey covered a range of areas of interest, to help MBIE better understand the characteristics of the RSI workforce and the key challenges facing the RSI sector. The Survey closed in March 2022.

Te Rāngai Rangahau, Pūtaiao me te Auahatanga | The Research, Science and Innovation sector

Aotearoa New Zealand’s investment in RSI can help address many of the key challenges facing our country and the world. The Government’s aspiration for RSI in Aotearoa New Zealand “is for a research system that is connected, diverse and dynamic, and that attracts and retains excellent talent. As such, we want to ensure the research workforce can be offered attractive and flexible careers and career pathways.”

Aotearoa New Zealand’s RSI system is comprised of people, institutions, and infrastructure. It includes eight universities, seven CRIs, Te Pūkenga (formed from 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics), three Wānanga, numerous IROs, government agencies, and approximately 2,400 businesses.

Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways Green Paper 2021 [PDF, 3.6 MB]

Huarahi rangahau | Survey approach

The Survey was designed by the MBIE project team. The Survey questions were also informed by MBIE’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for this project. The Survey was developed during October-November 2021.

Different organisation types (ROs, TEIs, businesses) were asked different questions. Information on the RSI workforce at TEIs was supplemented by data from the Ministry of Education (MoE) Single Data Return (SDR) workforce questionnaire 2021. A full breakdown of questions asked according to organisation type is provided at Appendix E.

The Survey questions covered a range of areas of interest about the sector to help MBIE better understand the characteristics of and challenges facing the RSI workforce. The questions covered:

  • Workforce characteristics, including gender, ethnicity, and age
  • Equity, diversity and inclusion
  • Building and sustaining talent
  • Workplace culture
  • Overseas recruitment
  • Mātauranga Māori, Māori aspirations, and Te Tiriti

The Survey was launched in November 2021. MBIE sent links to the Survey to a range of RSI organisations and peak bodies (Universities New Zealand, Science New Zealand, Independent Research Association of New Zealand (IRANZ), Callaghan Innovation) to distribute to other organisations. MBIE also provided information about how to complete the Survey and the importance of collecting the data. MBIE regularly engaged with organisations to encourage completion of the Survey, which was live for 4 months and closed in March 2022.

MBIE received 106 responses to the Survey. Table 1 sets out the types of organisations that responded.

Table 1: RSI Workforce Survey of Organisation respondent summary according to type

Organisation category Organisation type Survey respondents Employees represented
Business (49) Business 49 434
Research Organisations (46) Independent Research Organisation 19 4,953
Crown Research Institute​ 7
Other 20
Tertiary Education Institutions (11) University 8 43,685*
Wānanga 2
Te Pūkenga 1
Total 106 49,072
  1. 106 individual organisations responded to this question
  2. *This number includes individuals reported in the MoE SDR which includes data from all 27 universities, wānanga and Te Pūkenga
  3. Data Sources: Workforce Organisations Survey and MoE Single Data Return.

This report also uses data from the MoE SDR workforce questionnaire for 2021. This questionnaire is conducted by the MoE and covers data for the 2021 calendar year. It collects data on staff employed in tertiary education providers that receive government funding, consisting of public providers (Te Pūkenga, Universities, and Wānanga), and Private Training Establishments (PTEs).

As we collected data from all the major TEIs and ROs, this data can be treated as representative of the RSI workforce in these organisation types. These organisations represent nearly 50,000 employees within the RSI sector.

However, as shown in Table 1, only 49 businesses responded. Given there are around 2,400 businesses in the RSI sector, the results are not representative of the RSI workforce in the private sector due to the limited data received from businesses.

Therefore, for the purposes of this report, when we reference the ‘RSI workforce’, we are referring to the workforce at publicly funded research organisations, including TEIs.

Research and development survey: 2021(external link) — Stats NZ