New Zealand: How and where to find a job

The government is looking abroad to fill skills shortages ranging from construction to healthcare

Despite a shortage of workers, there won’t be jobs for everyone, so it is important to do your research before leaving to make sure your skills and experience match what employers are looking for.

Despite a shortage of workers, there won’t be jobs for everyone, so it is important to do your research before leaving to make sure your skills and experience match what employers are looking for.

 

Employment market
For most people emigrating in search of work, booming Australia has been an obvious choice in recent years over New Zealand, which was hit by recession at a similar time to Ireland. Unemployment soared from a record low of 3.4 per cent in 2007 to 7 per cent in 2009.

But the economy has been recovering since, unemployment has fallen to about 5.1 per cent, and acute skills shortages have emerged in industries ranging from construction to healthcare, science and information technology that the New Zealand government is looking abroad to fill.

Rebuilding Christchurch
Skilled tradespeople and construction professionals are still sought after to assist with the rebuilding of Christchurch, after two major earthquakes destroyed much of the city in 2010 and 2011. However, this is to a lesser extent than in previous years, as agriculture and manufacturing regain strength in the area. Unemployment rates are increasing again in Christchurch following a lengthy period of outperforming the rest of the country.

About 80 per cent of buildings in the central business district and more than 10,000 homes needed to be demolished after the two earthquakes, and an additional 100,000 houses were in need of repair. The rebuild is expected to continue until 2020, at a cost of about NZ$40 billion (€26 billion).

Rebuild activity peaked in 2015 and was expected to sustain for two to three years. Reconstruction was reported to have reached the halfway point in 2016.

Ireland is one of the main skilled labour markets being targeted by employers. Engineers, carpenters, joiners and building surveyors are in high demand, but note that you will need official papers to prove your qualifications.

Other opportunities

Opportunities for construction workers are not limited to Christchurch. The rebuild has sucked in workers from all over the country, creating shortages in other cities and regions, especially in Auckland where major infrastructure projects including a new city rail link are planned or already under construction.

New Zealand has had an emigration problem of its own over the past decade, which has exacerbated skill shortages in areas outside construction, such as healthcare. A third of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree between 2003 and 2004 were living abroad after nine years.

Skill shortages
Despite a shortage of workers, there won’t be jobs for everyone, so it is important to do your research before leaving to make sure your skills and experience match what employers are looking for.

There are three skills lists that facilitate the entry of skilled migrants: skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz.

The immediate and long-term skill shortage lists are updated annually, while a temporary third list for Canterbury, developed to provide workers for the Christchurch rebuild, is updated every three months.

The immediate skill shortage list mostly features trades, construction, healthcare and agriculture -related professions. The long-term list contains more, with a particular emphasis on engineers, healthcare and social workers, and construction workers.

Find a job
New Zealand employers place a lot of emphasis on “New Zealand experience”, according to Ciaran Lowney, who has lived in Auckland for nine years. “Newly qualified and inexperienced graduates or those who have just arrived may struggle against New Zealand candidates, but enthusiasm and positivity in interviews will set you apart.”

He also advises jobseekers not to be too choosy when they first arrive. “My first role was not my dream job, but it was a foot in the door, a chance to start earning, and more importantly, a chance to get New Zealand experience,” he says.

Employers are not obliged to advertise jobs and it is estimated that only 20 to 30 per cent of vacancies are advertised. So networking plays an important role when searching for work. Companies also place importance on personal recommendations from existing employees.

The Irish community actively helps new arrivals to find work, so linking in with the local Irish association and joining online networks for Irish people can be helpful.

Information about jobs and vacancies is often posted by Irish people on the Irish People Living in New Zealand Facebook page.
Seek.co.nz is the biggest jobs website for professionals, while trademe.co.nz has extensive listings for professionals and blue-collar workers. Careers.govt.nz has a full list of job and recruitment websites, and tips on finding work.

The Earthquake Commission, the agency responsible for the residential repair programme in Christchurch, advertises directly for workers on its website www.eqr.co.nz, as does the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (strongerchristchurch.govt.nz). Fletcher Construction is managing many of the repair projects and has a lot of jobs advertised on its website, Fbcareers.co.nz.

Opportunitycanterbury.org.nz is a government-run website listing jobs for all occupations and professions in the region.

Recruitment agencies are also hugely helpful, Lowney says. “Apply to as many as you can, but make sure you are transparent. If you are presented to a company by one agency, make sure another agency doesn’t present you for the same job.”

Local recruitment agencies are most useful for temporary office or farm work, while international companies like Robert Walters are better for professional positions. Applicants can register with recruiters before leaving Ireland. Immigration New Zealand has a section on its website on working and finding a job.

Additional reporting by Gráinne Loughran


 

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