Hospitality & Tourism listings up 9% YoY in June vs (-44% in March) and (-89%) in April, which resonates with feedback we're hearing in the hospitality industry. It’s an understatement to say that the year 2020 has had an effect on businesses of all industries, but some sectors have bounced back better than expected.
Businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry took one of the biggest hits with the closure of New Zealand’s borders and the country-wide lockdown, they had to make tough decisions to cut costs. Now, with restricted overseas travel options, Kiwis are getting out and exploring their own country, and these businesses need to replenish their teams to keep up with customer demand.
Another industry that has seen an increase in job listings is Agriculture, Fishing & Forestry. Job listings in this sector were up 37% YoY on Trade Me – as of 13th August, there are 636 jobs in this category nationwide.
If it was any other year, many of the jobs in these industries would be filled by migrant workers. According to Newshub*¹, around 14,400 migrant workers fill seasonal labour roles each year, and up to 60,000 work in hospitality, but with our borders closed to travellers, businesses in these industries are struggling to fill the increased vacancies.
The challenge of the skills shortage is not only finding Kiwis who are keen to do the job, but also who have the technical knowledge and skills the roles require. The farming sector is lacking around 1000 skilled workers due to the borders being closed, including around 150 skilled machine operating roles, and industry leaders say there just aren't enough locals with the skills and experience needed *².
According to Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor, the government recognises that it may be necessary to look at how to safely bring some skilled workers into the country, but the first priority is to help train New Zealanders who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. He encourages the contractors to look at candidates who may not have the skills but who may be able to lift their skills in the roles.
The main issue with either solution is the urgency with which the industry needs to hire people. The seasonal work is fast-approaching and whether migrant workers are brought in and quarantined for two weeks or New Zealanders are given specialist training, this all requires time that the industry doesn’t have to lose, so there doesn’t appear to be a quick fix in sight.
Although it is currently a headache for the industry, it will be interesting to see New Zealanders who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 take up the challenge, move out of the competitive job market of the cities and embrace the change in lifestyle and career in rural areas.