Prioritising the things that matter – A Priority One update


As the Western Bay of Plenty region’s economic development organisation, our job is to grow the economy of the region in a sustainable way and ensure the benefits of a growing economy deliver prosperity to everyone in our community.  One of the ways we do this is to focus on lifting people’s incomes by supporting growth in higher value jobs and ensuring local people are equipped to do them.   

In the current environment many businesses are reaching out to us highlighting the impact of the tight labour market on productivity and business sustainability.  One such business, operating in the construction sector, pointed out that Master Plumbers recently stated they are 6000 staff short, and builders were almost double that. Of course, the impact staff shortages are having is not limited to builders and plumbers, with all trades and sectors such as professional services, healthcare, education and tech (not to mention horticulture) all crying out for skilled people. 

We can all relate to how border closures, the impact of Covid-19, inflation and Government policy changes might have had an impact here. And while there’s no easy quick fix, it’s clear a team approach is needed if the region is to minimise the impacts of what is likely to be a sustained period of talent shortage. So, we wanted to share what we’re doing as an organisation to help our members, local businesses and the wider community navigate short- and longer-term challenges in the labour market. 

  • Established Ara Rau, a skills and employment hub which focuses on supporting those currently disengaged from the workforce, helping them to become work ready and access jobs.  In the last 12 months we have worked with 1200 people and helped 200 into local jobs.
  • Working with local secondary schools, tertiary institutions and businesses to promote local career pathways, including trades-based careers, and provide students with work experience opportunities.  The idea here is not just to inspire students but to help connect businesses much earlier with the young talent coming through our education system.
  • Providing resources for businesses to help them adapt to the Future of Work.  This includes case studies and practical information such as our Youth Engagement Guide for businesses, which was co-developed with local employers. 
  • Developing industry talent plans in collaboration with key sectors.  One example is our work with Waihanga Ara Rau – Construction and Infrastructure Workforce Development Council to develop a detailed labour demand and supply model by ANSIC code.  This will help demonstrate critical job shortages to Government and provide the evidence needed to influence both industry practice and Government policy settings.
  • Targeted talent attraction.  We operate a talent attraction portal, Wish You Were Working Here, which helps target and attract specific skills.  We also work with local companies (in collaborative sector groups) to attract offshore skills in areas of specific shortage.
  • Working with anchor institutions such as Waikato University and Tauranga City Council to position Tauranga as a destination of choice for tertiary study leading into local employment opportunities.
  • Building our innovation ecosystem to help connect, retain and attract skilled talent in our region.
  • Participating as an active member of the Bay of Plenty’s Regional Skills Leadership Group which is in the final stages of producing its first annual regional skills plan.  These plans will be considered by Government when making tertiary education investment decisions, immigration policy and other settings impacting the labour market.  

Though there is no silver bullet, we’re focused on working alongside local businesses to ensure Tauranga is well positioned to meet the opportunities and challenges that the future of work will bring.  Please reach out to us is you’d like to know more.