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UNISA case study – Understanding future labour force demands in the upper North Island

The upper North Island is due to dominate economic growth in New Zealand over the next five years. The relevant authorities need to ensure that there will be an adequate supply of skills to facilitate this growth. To understand these issues Infometrics was recently involved in a project that analysed the future labour force demands of key sectors in the upper North Island. The project highlighted key growth opportunities in construction, tourism, and freight and logistics, but cautions that these sectors face skills shortages that need to be addressed.

What was the challenge?

The report was commissioned by the Upper North Island Strategic Alliance (UNISA) – a group of councils in Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Auckland, and Northland whose objective is to collaborate on projects that maximise sustainable development opportunities in the upper North Island and its contribution to New Zealand. UNISA commissioned Infometrics, alongside MartinJenkins, to examine key sectors in the upper North Island, with the requirement that we:

  1. Develop a framework for identifying and analysing key sectors.
  2. Break sectors into various parts of the value chain and look at the geographical links and locations of activity.
  3. Forecast the future labour and skills requirements of each sector.
  4. Identify any mismatches between future labour demand and supply, whether they are opportunities to be exploited or constraints that could hamper each sector.

What was our data solution?

Infometrics’ web-based sector profiles provided a perfect building block for undertaking the analysis. The profiles allowed for customised sectoral definitions to be created, based on the unique mix of industries and occupations making up each sector.

Once each sector in the upper North Island had been defined, the interactive web interface allowed us to quickly come to grips with the characteristics of each sector. With the click of a button, it is easy to see how each sector’s workforce was growing, what jobs and skills will be in demand, the demographics of employees, how much they earn, and how the sector compares to other sectors in the upper North Island or around the country.

The sector profiles also provide forecasts of future labour and skills demand which were translated into demand for qualifications. The demand was contrasted with the supply of qualifications coming from the tertiary education system and net migration to identify where skill imbalances are likely to occur.

What was the key finding of the project?

The report showed that 115,000 new jobs are expected to be created across the upper North Island between now and 2020, with a further 245,000 jobs needing to be filled to replace workers leaving the labour market. Given this strong demand for labour, the report identified significant skills shortages that could appear in some occupations related to construction, freight and logistics, and tourism. The report also highlighted the strong inter-sectoral and inter-regional linkages across the upper North Island in many of these sectors.

In a media release announcing the report, UNISA’s chair, Bill Shepherd of Northland Regional Council, said “There is a clear risk that not enough people with the right kinds of skills will be available for specific sectors.

“It is crucial that we do all we can to manage the situation going forward so that the Upper North Island, and through it the country, can maximise our economic potential,” said Mr Shepherd.

Who needs to take note?

This information is extremely useful for central and local government, tertiary education organisations and industry associations. By highlighting likely future skill imbalances, decision makers and stakeholders in the affected sectors can develop plans to mitigate the effects so that they do not adversely affect their local economy.

For more details, get in touch or read a summary of the full report.

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