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Summit focuses on at-risk jobs

 
Six industries will come under special scrutiny at John Key's jobs summit after being identified as the most vulnerable in an economic downturn.

Jobs in construction, retail, hospitality, agriculture, finance and manufacturing have been declining - manufacturing and retail sectors have suffered falls in the number of jobs of more than 20 per cent in the last year.

Department of Labour statistics show that less skilled workers across all industries are most likely to struggle for work.

The building industry, which employs 50,000 workers, is driven by the number of new buildings being constructed. Since June 2007, the number of new homes authorised has halved.

Richard Carver of Jennian Homes told the Herald last week a fall of more than 40 per cent in new buildings would make layoffs inevitable.

Pacific Islanders and Maori are likely to bear the brunt of a decline in construction. People from these groups fill a large proportion of the most common and most vulnerable jobs.


Advertisement By contrast, skilled and highly skilled jobs, which are still in demand, are predominantly taken by European New Zealanders.

Retail is the largest of the industries targeted by the summit. Nearly 260,000 New Zealanders are employed in retail positions but the industry has also been affected by nearly 7000 job losses in the last year.

While sales and marketing managers are still in demand, opportunities for the most common occupations - sales assistants and checkout operators - are fewer. Employment pressure in the retail sector is likely to affect young people most significantly as under-20s make up the largest employee group in the industry.

Low international tourist numbers and cutbacks in household spending are having an impact on employment in hospitality, a sector which provides 120,000 jobs to New Zealanders.

Chefs are the mostly likely to struggle for employment as there have been slight decreases in demand for them since 2007. Cost-cutting in the industry also means jobs for cleaners are steadily falling.

Despite the low New Zealand dollar, a fall in demand for New Zealand-made goods has hurt the manufacturing industry. Jobs declined by nearly 11,000 last year, making it the most vulnerable industry for employees.

Hangover from drought last year and falls in commodity prices, especially food, have affected market-oriented jobs in agriculture and fisheries which fell 5 per cent in the last year.

The fallout from the credit crunch and the collapse of finance companies has made the finance sector fickle - finance companies in New Zealand shed 6000 workers in the last year.



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