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How has COVID-19 Shaped New Zealand’s Employment Market?

How has COVID-19 Shaped New Zealand’s Employment Market?
2020 has certainly been an interesting year so far. Realistically, New Zealand still has a long way to go to return to how things were six months ago, and there will no doubt be further restructures and redundancies across all sectors. However, we are cautiously optimistic and there are signs out there that suggest the market is shifting. We have been monitoring online job boards and have seen an increase of at least 5% in the number of new roles being advertised week on week throughout June. Sectors showing the most growth are unsurprisingly in high-demand areas, such as Manufacturing, Logistics and Technology.

To shed more light on the current state of the market, we asked our consultants for a snapshot into their specialist recruitment areas as well as their best advice for how to get through this time.


FMCG has been strong throughout the pandemic as New Zealand’s two major supermarkets have been able to continue trading. Similarly, businesses in the Supply Chain and Operations sector, classified as essential services, were able to operate right through lockdown but with some social distancing challenges to manage. We were able to help fill critical operational roles in Warehousing and Key Account Management to keep up with demand during that time.

Pharmaceutical companies have also been doing well and are still seeing growth, as are those within Primary Industry. On the flipside, some sectors are still in a holding pattern while they figure out what their new normal looks like. New areas of growth in technology, products and services, as well as new innovations, are likely to come from this sudden change to how businesses operate, so watch this space for further developments.

The Technology industry has been very interesting over the past few months. IT is one of the departments that have been hugely relied on to ensure that a business’ staff were able to work remotely with very short lead times. Some organisations were more ready for this than others but on the whole, feedback for Tech teams nationwide has been really positive. With the financial year-end looming for a number of businesses and new budgets being set, it is highly likely that technology and developing an online/digital presence will be a big focus point to ensure companies can get their product to market and that they have the right level of data security.

Employers who can afford to recruit over the next few months are going to benefit from some pretty impressive candidates, especially in Accounting and Finance. There are a lot of Analysts available (commercial, financial, data, insights, business performance, pricing, process improvement) who were among the first to have their contracts end, but judging by post-GFC, they will have the skills and mindsets to bring us out the other side.

The Sales and Marketing industry has had mixed results post-COVID-19. Some businesses are doing well or better than expected as their products and services are in high demand, but they are nervous about making any big decisions until the future is more certain. Others are under a lot of stress due to loss of revenue or entire channels and have had to make changes as a result. Hopefully, once business confidence returns in this sector, we will see a shift and more opportunities appearing.

Overall, Auckland businesses have been presented with a great opportunity to review the current resources and make potential suggestions for improvement with systems and processes – things that are left to last-minute after “business as usual.” Some companies have been able to introduce a “paperless office” as a flow-on effect after months of working from home. Others have fast-tracked their implementation of new or well-overdue upgrades to technology. Business confidence has improved over June, which is very positive, but it is still early days – most businesses are not looking to hire permanent staff but will look to bring on contractors soon.


The demand for Human Resources professionals has started to slowly return to the Wellington market, although contract/fixed term is definitely stronger than permanent opportunities. Across the board, there seems to have been a shift towards fixed-term roles to cover essential work.

The Policy Analyst job market has picked up recently with government departments recommencing their permanent hiring following lockdown. The focus is largely on high priority areas that are important to NZ’s COVID-19 recovery. However, many roles in other less-critical areas are still on hold and the overall market has not yet returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. The contracting market is picking up, with more of a focus on fixed-term positions over hourly rate roles.


The market in Christchurch is picking up slowly, and we are seeing activity return to the city too. In general, Finance and Manufacturing seem to be moving more quickly than other sectors, but permanent hiring is still relatively quiet, especially within larger companies. The smaller IT companies are still hiring and we are starting to see a few more contracting opportunities arise. We are still seeing a lot of uncertainty though, and with some businesses looking at reducing in size, this correlates to an increase in candidate numbers and applications.

If you need more advice on the current state of the employment market or would like support with navigating the recruitment process during this time, please reach out to us. We have a team of recruitment consultants specialising in a range of industries across the country and would be happy to help with anything you need.

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