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Skills in Demand for 2023

Knowing what skills will be in highest demand for the year ahead can help employers and employees alike prepare. For business leaders, advanced knowledge of the skills that will be in short supply can help you design strategies for attraction and retention and inform internal training efforts to ensure teams can be upskilled appropriately. For employees, this list can help guide future career ambitions and learning plans.   

We update this list yearly in line with the latest recruitment trends to ensure you can navigate the market changes to remain competitive – whether you’re looking for a new job opportunity or to increase your workforce.

The factors driving demand   

In 2022 we experienced a tightening of the employee market mainly from an overall lack of migration, at time of writing, the unemployment rate is sitting at 3.3 per cent. 

Despite borders opening to workers from overseas, New Zealand still has to contend with workers leaving the country in high numbers. In fact, annual net migration is currently at a loss of 8400 people. 

While it remains to be seen how the markets might react to the current economic volatility, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand continues to increase interest rates to try and tame inflation. A slowing of the economy in the context of continued skills shortages could prompt more people searching for roles overseas with higher salaries to maintain their current lifestyle or drive the opposite behaviour with workers wanting to stay put in fear of a recession.

Top five skills in demand

We’ve examined job market trends across the 27 industries and sectors we recruit within. Below are the top five most in-demand skills that companies need nationally. These are the skills that are in strongest demand relative to supply. We’ve focused on job titles to reveal the exact hard or technical skills at the top of the supply and demand imbalance. If you’re interested in the top soft skills in demand, we have also complied the seven job ready soft skills you need today.

1. Project Manager

Project Managers are in high demand across almost every industry. The reasons differ across sectors, but in large, this shortage continues as a direct reflection of the increasing volume and complexity of projects being undertaken by organisations. As businesses continue to roll out projects to capitalise on economic opportunities, adapt to changes in the regulatory environment, and embed agility or new technology into their operations, Project Managers lead the change and transformation program and guide a project’s output.

2. Architects 

Architects with experience using different software, such as Revit and Archicad, are in high demand, as well as those with business development skills who can build networks and deliver business into a studio. These attributes are highly desired as Architects move into more senior roles, with visualisation through InDesign and Photoshop also sought after. 

3. Engineers

From Civil to Electrical and Grid – in engineering, you name it, it’s in short supply and in high demand. With both federal and state governments continuing to focus on infrastructure building hiring demand is high right across the nation. While engineering skills have been earmarked to increase on the skilled migration list, it can be incredibly difficult for overseas-trained Engineers to get their licence accredited overseas. This can slow the transition of the skills into the New Zealand market. A continued focus on decarbonisation and energy supply transformation projects, means that these skills will continue to be in high demand, in particular we’re seeing a call out for Transmission and Power System Engineers. 

4. Commercial Business Partner

Companies need to be thinking long term when it comes to business strategies and especially as mergers and acquisitions become a major priority for organisations. This is why professionals such as Commercial Business Partners will be in such high demand, as businesses seek commercially minded individuals to help take the lead on these acquisitions and risk analysis.

5. Trades and Labour

An increased volume of projects means that Trade and Labour will continue to be in high demand, particularly across construction-based projects. This trend is likely to continue with migration numbers still low, and the high demand for housing in major cities.  

Other skills in demand

Civil Project Engineers 

Within Civil Construction, recruitment activity is high for Project Engineers with a Civil Engineering degree and previous experience as an Engineer in the construction of projects to the required specifications. Hiring demand for these skills is increasing across the country – especially for those with public sector and subdivision experience. 

Agile Coach 

Technology remains front of mind for most organisations and with that, digital transformation is high up on the agenda. Most organisations have moved toward agile practices, which means Agile Coaches are needed to enable these practices. 

Cyber Security 

As data breaches and cyber hacks dominate headlines – cyber security is dominating the agenda in many boardrooms. This boom in the sector means that the skills needed have not yet caught up with the demand. Cyber Security experts are needed across the Public Sector, as well as in Finance and any industry where data protection is of immense importance. Penetration Testers are one of the key skills in specific demand as they enable the examination of IT infrastructure for any vulnerabilities.  

Sustainability Consultants

As the number of green jobs continues to increase, so too will the demand for Sustainability Consultant roles in the Engineering sector. Consultants are needed to help increase the awareness and desire in the industry to enact sustainability plans and to provide advice where needed. 

Cloud Specialists

Aligning with digital transformations, Cloud Specialists are needed to ensure enterprise scale technology can be safeguarded on the cloud. It’s safe to say that professionals with this skillset will be in high demand for the medium- to long-term as businesses set out to continually transform their organisations with enhanced technology.

Data Scientists

Digital transformations equip organisations with more data than ever, therefore there is an increased need for analysts to be able to translate this data for businesses to be able to use in the planning and execution of business strategies. Data-led decision-making means that organisations will continue to require Data Scientists with the addition of cloud experience.  

Service Desk Analyst

Service Desk Analysts are a constant when it comes to in-demand jobs, as professionals are needed to be able to respond to a range of IT support requests, as well as running maintenance on workplace systems. As all business’ technological requirements continue to increase, the need for Service Desk Analysts will continue to grow.

Payroll Officers

Payroll is an area of continuous and extreme demand. While recruitment demand for many accountancy and finance skills fluctuates based on seasonal trends, payroll officers are required all year. When they recruit, employers look for Payroll Officers with relevant systems knowledge and experience working on implementations or improvements. They also look for proven experience working with a similar volume of employees, and an understanding of the relevant industry awards. 


The legal sector is incredibly skill short currently and one of the most in demand occupations. There is an existing scarcity of lawyers with some post-qualification experience as they turn to inhouse, technology and consulting roles however the shortage has been further exacerbated by many heading overseas. Demand is strong for Lawyers of varying experience levels in most practice areas with Corporate Commercial Lawyers in particular demand. The focus on infrastructure means Construction and Infrastructure Lawyers are also needed. 

Civil Designers  

Civil Designers with experience in structural and hydraulics engineering or residential subdivisions are continuing to experience high recruitment demand. Organisations require talent with experience using relevant software packages, especially Civil 3D and 12D, ideally coupled with a Bachelor of Engineering.

Forklift Operations

Demand is high for Forklift Operators to move bulk materials and goods in the warehouse and logistics sector. Ongoing labour shortages will keep job opportunities high for the foreseeable future. 

Ticketed Crane Operators 

Manufacturing and distribution companies face a shortage of trained, ticketed and skilled Crane Operators with a truck license. Candidates with these skills are essential to load and unload stock for delivery. 

Accounts Receivable

Accounts Receivable professionals are required to ensure all debtors ledgers are reduced. Strong communications skills and a drive to achieve KPIs are essential. 

Facilities Managers

Recruitment demand has increased for technical Facilities Managers with an engineering or trade qualification in addition to a thorough understanding of mechanical and electrical services to reduce contractor spend. Jobs for Facilities Managers are becoming more strategic, with professionals called upon to navigate challenges and change constantly. 

Truck Drivers

A shortage of experienced, licenced Truck Drivers exists nationally, from medium rigid licence through to heavy combination. Truck Drivers are sought for a range of roles, including multi-drop deliveries and longer haul. An exemplary driving history and reliability are essential. 

Advice for employers

The skills shortage will start to ease, but it’s going to be a gradual process that will take time. So consider these actions.  

  • Your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is one of your greatest tools in attraction and retaining the talent you need. Employee’s priorities have changed, with flexibility now among the main priorities for workers in New Zealand. Show up to the table with a value proposition that can be tailored to an individual’s needs and wants to gain the advantage.
  • With flexible working being a big draw card, businesses should consider their spaces and their processes to ensure teams can work effectively in this new environment. Additionally, leaders need to be upskilled in managing and leading teams effectively in a flexible working environment.
  • When resources are tight, consider where the best place is to direct those resources. Rather than chasing market share or new clients, now might be the time to double your focus on your most important clients or customers and ensure they are being properly serviced.
  • Embed everyday learning. In a global report, upskilling was the fourth most important priority for employees. Businesses constantly need new skills, and employees are looking for career progression pathways. By offering an effective and measurable learning and development plan organisations can plan for the capabilities they need while delivering a potent retention strategy when further coupled with a transparent progression pathway.  

Advice for employees

While there is still a skills shortage happening, it is starting to ease, and the economic headwinds are starting to feel blustery. If you’re thinking about your career trajectory, consider: 

  • What are your long-term career ambitions? While making quick moves to take advantage of higher remuneration can be tempting, consider if the move will help you achieve what you want. Before making any big moves, take a step back and reflect on your long-term goals and how this move could help or hinder your ability to achieve them.
  • Improving your capabilities and what you can offer employers will help you stay on top of the CV pile. Work is changing at an increasingly rapid pace, so keep your technical skills sharp by adopting a continuous learning attitude and actively seek out skills to add to your repertoire.
  • Don’t forget your soft skill development. When the market is tight, employers are accepting of the fact that they may need to do some on-the-job training if a potential employee demonstrates strength in their soft skills.
  • There may be plenty of opportunity out there or you may have been attending interview after interview but try to not get complacent. Do the prep work before each interview, make sure you show up with your best foot forward and be an enthusiastic participant in the journey. Everyone, including you, values their time, don’t waste it.   

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