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Hotspots of skills in demand

NZIOB 2018

Strong construction vacancy activity has been evident across New Zealand. In the South Island, commercial construction continues to dominate, while the infrastructure sector remains strong and residential construction active thanks to increased activity in the retirement village sector. 

In Central Otago, activity remains extremely high due to continued investment in the tourism industry across hospitality and retail in the Queenstown and Wanaka region.

In Dunedin, projects in the healthcare and education sectors will add to demand for Quantity Surveyors, Project Managers and Estimators as well as all disciplines in the building trades.

The North sees a more varied project portfolio across infrastructure, commercial and residential construction. Wellington and Auckland continue to face a major skill shortage across the board, with several of the country’s flagship projects based in Auckland and the infrastructure, commercial and residential industries all active.

Vacancy activity differs around the country as follows: 

South Island

Commercially experienced professionals including Quantity Surveyors, Estimators and Project Managers are all in high demand across the South Island. Demand is focused on Queenstown and Wanaka where the commercial pre-contractor space is extremely competitive. 

Other skills in significant demand include Carpenters and Skilled Tradespeople, who are required across the South Island. 


Construction companies in Wellington are predicting stable growth this half. Subcontractors are in high demand given increased residential growth resulting from KiwiBuild. This will put more pressure on the commercial market.

Experienced construction professionals are highly sought after. Project Managers, Site Managers and Estimators are in greatest demand due to the sheer volume of demolition and earthquake strengthening work underway.

Senior Quantity Surveyors with estimation experience are sought too in response to a strong project pipeline in Wellington.

Civil Project Managers with experience working on the tools are needed. The Transmission Gully project has added to vacancy activity, with various main and subcontractors requiring these candidates.


Auckland’s construction sector remains active thanks to the continuation or commencement of new commercial builds. Cranes dominate the Auckland skyline, particularly in the CBD, with major projects including Commercial Bay and the Convention Centre. Major developments in the Wynyard Quarter precinct are adding to demand. With the America’s Cup set to be held in Auckland in 2020, the market will remain active.

The residential market is buoyant and primarily driven by a significant housing shortage in Auckland. KiwiBuild, new apartments and the aged care sector are all contributing to growth.

The Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions remain active thanks to population growth and regional investment.

Site Managers, Project Managers, Quantity Surveyors and Estimators are all in demand. 

Salary trends

With a growing market in the South and North, continued upwards pressure on salaries and contract rates has been evident. Firms are also starting to become more open to making counter offers to retain staff, although the salaries proposed are not huge. 

In Wellington and Auckland, the major skill shortage is leading to some upwards salary pressure, although this is often countered by the ongoing strain on margins.

Jobseeker advice

Construction jobseekers should develop your soft skills, especially communication, presentation and relationship management. With clients now more involved in the development of their projects, such skills are crucial to maintaining an organisation’s values and reputation in the market.

It is also advisable to develop your management skills if you want to move off the tools.

On your CV, include the name, type and value of each project you worked on. Also mention if the project was completed on time and on budget. Then use bullet points to provide details of your key responsibilities.