One of the hardest things about choosing a potential career is knowing what industries and skills will be in demand by the time you’ve completed your tertiary studies. Raewyn Court reports.

With the future of work changing so rapidly, it’s difficult to predict which jobs will be available in just a few years’ time. However, Careers New Zealand advises that some long-standing, high-demand industries have traditionally offered good opportunities and are expected to employ many people in the future:

  • Health – demand for workers will continue to grow because our population is ageing.
  • Education – there is high demand for teaching and training services.
  • Social services – our ageing population will drive demand for social support.
  • Personal services – trades, accommodation, hospitality, transport, communications, property and business services.
  • Agriculture and horticulture – high demand for our dairy, meat and fruit products will lead to more jobs.

In addition to these traditional fields, there are emerging industries and new employment
opportunities in existing industries to consider:

  • Biotechnology – especially medical drugs and equipment.
  • Food and beverage – our dairy, seafood and wine industries continue to grow, with insatiable demands from consumers for fresher, tastier products.
  • Creative – movie-making is well established and tipped to grow.
  • Information technology – our fastest-growing export sector.

Software development
Jamie Blackwell, who manages the technology area at recruitment specialists Michael Page, says software development is still one of the most in-demand skill sets globally.

“Here in New Zealand we’ve developed a strong reputation for dynamic and game-changing technology solutions – the most well-known being MYOB and Xero. These organisations are always on the lookout for strong software developers and have a good solid graduate programme to assist you once you’ve finished your chosen tertiary study.”

Blackwell notes that some areas in IT are experiencing severe skill shortages at present and are likely to for the foreseeable future.

“Data analytics and data science have only recently become a staple within the IT industry and it has taken a few years for the tertiary providers to catch up,” he says.

“The likes of Massey and AUT have developed specific industry qualifications to counteract this market trend, but there is still a huge need for people with good knowledge in the data space.”

Students keen on IT and wondering which area is likely to offer good opportunities in the future should be looking into any IT industry that offers some kind of automation, says Blackwell. “The likes of machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality or virtual reality and the other two core areas of data and software development are, for the foreseeable future, going to be major growth areas.”

He adds that within the technology space there aren’t many areas in decline, “but the main one is that hardware (servers, racks and switching) is becoming more redundant as the cloud technology bubble takes off.”

Engineering and manufacturing
Matt Walker manages Michael Page’s engineering and manufacturing sector and says that in the field of engineering, the technical fields are highly sought after, “and salaries are commensurate to the lack of experienced candidates out there.” He says civil engineering is a growth sector where recruiters can’t find people quickly enough.

“New Zealand will continue to invest in its infrastructure, particularly in large-scale transport projects, and for this they need qualified engineers and designers.”

Walker says production management is one engineering industry that’s experiencing severe skill shortages.

“As manufacturers in New Zealand grow from being privately owned domestic enterprises to ones who wish to export and compete in the major growth markets, then the skill sets, particularly around operations, dramatically change,” he says.

“Clients require managers who have been exposed to WCM/Lean (world class) manufacturing and can identify opportunities for reduced costs per unit and therefore a more competitive product. Associated ISO standards and export regulations also put great pressure on companies to find candidates who can allow for their product to be exported, but more critically with limited recalls and high reliability.”

Project engineering and advanced engineering positions requiring tertiary qualifications are some of the industries that are likely to grow and offer good opportunities for graduates in future, says Walker.

Have a plan
It may not be easy to make study choices entirely future-proof, but Walker believes the key is to decide on what you want to do early.

“Create a plan around this, including what education you will need and what work experience you want to get during university, and follow it. Make sure it is something you want to do and are passionate about.”

Walker says it’s easy to make the mistake of falling into a job and then feeling the need to make dramatic career changes in your 30s.

“Find what you’re good at and study it. Failing that, I would suggest business studies is hugely transferable and will add great value to a student, but won’t shut any doors on the way.”

Employers want

  • a positive attitude
  • good communication
  • self-management skills
  • a willingness to learn
  • an ability to work in a team
  • thinking skills
  • resilience.

Source: Education Central | Future Focus

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