Unemployment: New Zealanders Just Don’t Want to Work


Unemployment is always a topic of contention. With the latest stats released from Statistics New Zealand, our current unemployment rate has increased to 4.3%, which means that over 120,000 of people who are considered ‘in the labour force’ are not currently working. So why are all of these people out of work? Yes, there is the argument that the number of new jobs being created is down, but what about the shortage of workers in key industries like Trades & Construction? The fact of the matter is, there are people out there who could work, but they choose not to.

One of the biggest challenges in the construction industry is finding people who are willing and able to work, and who actually turn up. Reliability is the number one thing letting companies down which often leaves them in the lurch and creates tension with delivering to project timelines. When projects overrun, costs increase and it’s a lose-lose situation for all parties involved.

“The problem we keep seeing is people who are unemployed say they want work, but when they’re given an opportunity, there are those who don’t turn up. What we do on a daily basis is filter through a large amount of people to find those that actually want to get stuck in and earn some money” says Jonny Peters at Hirestaff Limited.

“On a number of occasions in the last 12 months I have interviewed candidates looking for a variety of jobs, often paying more than minimum wage, but some end up doing a no show. The interesting thing is that we have a large number of international workers on work VISAs who actually want to work, meaning we place them into jobs instead of New Zealanders. It’s a fundamental issue with New Zealand people not wanting to actually get stuck in and do the mahi.”

Hirestaff, a trade recruitment agency based in Auckland, offers to put people on Site safe courses, provides ongoing support and supplies personal protective equipment (PPE). It’s a great opportunity for those who are unemployed to get some training and get back into the workforce.

“It’s a costly business to be in, but we love it. Every now and then you find those gems who are really committed to the job which makes everything worthwhile. It would be great if we could place more New Zealanders into work, but international candidates are often more reliable & our clients love them as a result. 40% of our temps are not originally from New Zealand”.

Although the New Zealand unemployment rate is considered low at 4.3%, there are countries out there with a far more productive work force. The likes of the UK and US with rates around 3.7% demonstrate that it is possible to get more people working. The real goal would be to match countries like the Czech Republic whose work ethic is through the roof with only 2% of their working population being unemployed.

“I really urge anyone that is looking for work to keep trying and be committed. There are plenty of jobs out there for those willing and able – all you need is a positive attitude and to turn up every day. New Zealand would be a far better and more productive place if people got off the couch and into work.”

Media Release 31 July 2019.