Digitization is driving demand for highly skilled workers while creating conditions that are more difficult for lower skilled members of New Zealand’s labor pool. This market is shifting to highly-skilled occupations with growth in the percentage of people working in managerial and professional jobs coinciding with a decrease in those employed in agriculture and manufacturing.
The challenge for New Zealand will be to boost productivity while adapting to a shifting labor market. Several proposals have been made to raise wages for low-paid workers with a proposed minimum wage increase of approximately 4.76%, and future increases based on the cost-of-living for low income earners.
Programs to ensure continuous training and upskilling of the workforce will also be essential to maintain high levels of employment in the face of a changing labor market and proposed restrictions on the number of immigrants allowed to live and work in New Zealand. Suggestions to reduce the annual number of people permitted to immigrate to New Zealand by as many as 20,000 to 30,000 could make more opportunities available to local job seekers. Additionally, workforce retention efforts are increasing in importance. Offering New Zealand’s emerging workforce opportunities that prevent emigration to markets such as Australia will create a more favorable environment for research and development, future investment and engagements that rely on new technologies.