Employment prospects


The main problem facing those wishing to work in New Zealand isn’t usually finding a job, but meeting the stringent immigration requirements, particularly concerning qualifications and English language proficiency.

In common with most other developed countries, New Zealand has suffered the ravages of unemployment in recent decades and its economy went into a deep recession during the early ’90s, which resulted in the wholesale closure of businesses throughout the country. In 1992, unemployment reached a peak of around 11 per cent, virtually the worst on record. In the late ’90s, however, the economy picked up, and in late 2001 unemployment was around 5 per cent and fell to its lowest ever recorded level (3.6 per cent) in February 2005 (although among Maoris it was around 11 per cent). By summer 2005, the rate had risen to 4 per cent.

Accountancy and IT are two areas where it’s relatively easy to find work in New Zealand, as there’s a shortage of skilled professionals. Health workers are also in demand, including doctors, nurses, specialists such as radiologists and (in particular) health workers prepared to work outside the main cities.

The Immigration New Zealand website ( ) has two useful resources for the job seeker: the  Long Term Skill Shortage List (formerly the Priority Occupations List or  POL) and the Immediate Skill Shortage List (formerly the Occupational Shortages List or OSL). They detail occupations where there are long-term and immediate shortages of skilled workers.

Many employers have something of a haphazard approach to recruitment and are often reluctant to plan ahead, with the result that they’re slow to lay off surplus staff during periods of recession and are equally slow to recruit new employees (and don't pay sufficient attention to improving skills and training) when business picks up. They do, however, appreciate ‘old-fashioned’ values such as hard work (particularly yours) and a willingness to ‘muck in’ and get things done. Therefore, anyone who arrives in New Zealand with a strong work ethic has something of a head start in the job market.

Further reading

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