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New Zealand Workforce Older, Less Utilised

Media release: 8 November 2012

New Zealand Workforce Older, Less Utilised

Fewer New Zealanders are in full time employment and more are reaching retirement age – particularly compared other economies in the Asia Pacific – according to a global study by Kelly.

The survey, part of the Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI) of nearly 170,000 employees worldwide including more than 3,500 in New Zealand, highlighted the marked difference in the local workforce and that of the country’s regional economic partners and competitors.

According to the Kelly research, at 55%, women make up a higher proportion of the workforce in New Zealand than the global average (47%) and that of the Asia Pacific (APAC) region (36%). The New Zealand workforce is also older, with a mean age of 35.2 among the survey respondents, compared to 31.9 throughout the Asia Pacific, with a significantly higher participation of employees from the Baby Boomer generation – 22%, compared to just 7% in the Asia Pacific region.

Kelly managing director Debbie Grenfell says as New Zealand becomes more closely aligned to markets in the Asia Pacific, and more opportunities arise from the rapid growing economies in the region, how New Zealand’s workforce is positioned will become increasingly important.

“It’s important that we recognise our differences – and celebrate them – particularly where they represent the cultural, age and gender diversity we have in our workforce,” says Debbie Grenfell.

“More participation from women and workers from across the generations – especially in leadership roles – means we have access to a greater range of ideas, experience, and perspectives, which are vital in a knowledge-led economy.”

“However, at the same time we need to ensure we can relate across generations and cultures – not only within our own workforces, but with our trading partners throughout the region.”

The survey also highlighted that, although there is a broader representation of ages in the New Zealand workforce, fewer local workers are fully employed. Just 40% of the survey respondents said they were in fulltime employment, whereas internationally, 54% of workers are fully employed and 76% in the Asia Pacific region. 29% of New Zealanders were in part time or casual work, compared to 20% internationally and 14% in the Asia Pacific.

According to the survey, 25% of New Zealanders worked less than 30 hours per week. Around the world, 14% of workers are employed less than 30 hours and just 9% in the Asia Pacific work fewer than 30 hours.

In terms of the industries in which the local workforce is employed, New Zealanders are less likely to be working in IT than is common globally or in the region, with just 7% of Kiwis employed in the field, compared to 10% internationally and 17% in the Asia Pacific region. New Zealanders are also more highly represented in retail (11% vs. 6% internationally and 4% APAC), the food and beverage sector (7% vs. 4% internationally and APAC) and hospitality and tourism (8% vs. 3% internationally and APAC).

According to the Kelly survey, New Zealanders also have a lower level of tertiary education, with 32% holding a bachelor degree, compared to 39% globally and 53% in the Asia Pacific; and just 7% holding and masters degree or doctorate, 20% internationally and 22% in the Asia Pacific region.

“As we join many developed countries in a much higher level of engagement with the Asia Pacific region, it is important we recognise our strengths and what we have to offer as an APAC partner,” says Debbie Grenfell.

“New Zealand businesses and employees represent a diverse and dynamic population, with wide ranging skills, strong entrepreneurialism, and an ability to adapt rapidly as part of a deregulated economy without many of the barriers that can hold businesses in other countries back.”

“However, we also need to ensure those advantages can create the opportunities for greater participation across our workforce, which in turn offers benefits for a broader spectrum of our society.”

“We also need to support our younger people in gaining access to higher education, to help make the most of emerging opportunities – particularly in the high tech and innovation industries, where our distance from the wider APAC market is less of a barrier.”

-ends-

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