8.5 jobs openings for every youth by 2030

I recently attended a workforce development session for regional economic development practitioners in the US and it was a sense of déjà vu when I think of regional New Zealand.

In the US, the retirement bulge means there are expected to be 8.5 job openings for every youth entering the workforce in 2030!

If I consider the New Zealand context, data from Statistics New Zealand shows than in just five years from now in 2028 there will 63,200 people reaching 25 years of age, but 64,690 people turning 65. So our labour market is on the backfoot when it comes to potentially filling existing roles, let alone accounting for any potential for growth in employment demand.

Often in New Zealand we limit our discussions of competition for labour to domestic and transtasman issues, but this is a global challenge folks!

From an economic development perspective, appealing to this more limited labour supply in future will be about trying to encourage industries to offer jobs that are:

  • High quality (compensation, low risk of unemployment, progression opportunities)
  • Highly accessible (minimal prerequisites, mixed demographics, flexible work).
  • Nested in an environment that values people and place.

Businesses also need to focus on individualised enablement and reskilling, to empower and retain workers. Go out and try untapping hidden talent pools within underutilised groups and demographics. You may be waiting a long time if you are hoping to find another perfect fit candidate to fill a role from the usual sources.

Don’t be blinded by New Zealand’s current immigration boom. That is merely a helpful phenomenon of the current business cycle – ultimately the bigger long-term structural megatrend you need to strategically plan for is an aging demographic. Labour supply is likely to become perpetually leaner and that is a global, and not just domestic, megatrend.