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The Most Sought-after Construction Skills In New Zealand

Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, New Zealand’s construction employers still find it difficult to recruit certain skills for their projects.

According to findings in the recently released Hays Construction & NZIOB Salary Guide for 2020, 69% of employers say it is ‘very difficult’ or ‘hard’ to recruit Senior Managers. This is followed closely by Project Managers and Construction Managers (both 66%), Estimators (56%), Quantity Surveyors (55%), Site Managers (52%) and Project Engineers (50%).

At the other end of the scale, 91% of employers say it is ‘easy’ or ‘manageable’ to recruit Cadets and entry-level candidates. Employers also say that Leading Hands (66%), Forepersons (60%), Health & Safety Managers (56%) and Site Engineers (54%) are relatively easy to find.

Interestingly, 28% of survey respondents said they expect to increase permanent headcount over the coming year, while 34% will increase their use of contact staff.

Perhaps this is because 53% believe that New Zealand’s construction sector is better positioned than most others to cope post-Covid-19.

As for the skills that employers foresee as having the greatest impact on the effectiveness of their organisation, communication skills top the list. With 85% of employers indicating this soft skill has the highest impact, it is ranked ahead of technical skills, which are deemed important to 67%.

“New Zealand’s construction industry has experienced some good levels of stability and even opportunities for many employers over the past year,” said Adam Shapley, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand.

“Given this, there are some positive hiring intentions in the market, especially in the contract space for both management and labour positions.

“New Zealand’s construction industry has long suffered from an acute skilled labour shortage and it seems that even Covid-19 has been unable to ease the skills gaps that exist in many areas. In fact, a staggering 82% of employers told us that skills shortages will have either a significant (25%) or minor (57%) impact on the effective operation of their business over the year ahead.

“For jobseekers, the high value that employers place on communication skills suggests that it is important to develop this soft skill if you want to advance your career or secure your next role in the industry.

“Communication skills are now deemed vital in the construction industry because many employers have experienced the situation where a candidate looks amazing on paper and possesses strong technical skills but is unable to form relationships with peers. This creates major issues onsite and internally. As a result, employers now place more emphasis on soft skills when they recruit.”

In other key findings:

  • Employers have reduced their salary increase intentions. In their last review, 23% gave no increases whatsoever to their staff. When they next review salaries, 37% intend to offer no increases;
  • While 39% of employers increased salaries by up to 3% when they last reviewed them, just 26% intend to increase at this level when they next review them;
  • The most popular benefits offered are a mobile phone followed by a vehicle, then health insurance and a bonus;
  • 83% of employers offer their staff flexible working hours;
  • Women fill just 18% of management roles in the construction industry – down slightly from 19% last year;
  • 53% of employers indicate that the average length of service of their employees is between 3 to 5 years, while for 32% the average is 6 to 10 years.

The Hays Construction & NZIOB Salary Guide is now in its 16th year. It details typical salaries for construction professionals in 11 locations across New Zealand and recruitment trends. Download the Guide at

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