Official data from Stats NZ revealed that Aotearoa’s unemployment rate has plummeted to its lowest level in nearly a year. With more New Zealanders finding work, are students and graduates also benefiting?
According to Stats NZ’s Household Labour Force Survey, the number of unemployed people throughout the June quarter has dropped by 17,000 people, or 12.4%. This is the largest quarterly drop since the creation of the survey in 1986, and a significant decline from a year ago, in which the nationwide unemployment rate sat at 5.3% while in the midst of the virus’ grip on Aotearoa.
Stats NZ Senior Manager Sean Broughton told RNZ that this significant fall in unemployment numbers is in line with declining rates of benefit recipients and increased job vacancies. Frog Recruitment Managing Director Shannon Barlow confirmed that the current labour market is largely tipped in favour of job seekers. Barlow states that with more job vacancies, and employers competing to fill roles, people have been able to explore multiple job and career opportunities.
The drop of the unemployment rate has also benefited tertiary students and graduates. Student Job Search Chief Executive Suzanne Boyd told Craccum that it is indeed currently a ‘jobseekers market’, and that students and graduates are in a prime position to secure meaningful employment. Boyd states that students and graduates are in significantly high demand at the moment. “This is because of the fresh perspective, technological intelligence and enthusiasm they bring to the workplace to drive it forward.” In a bid to attract and keep employees away from competition, many employers are offering competitive benefits to ensure that they stand out from other employers.”
The unemployment rate is now what it was in mid-2019, with around forty-six thousand jobs added to the economy over the course of the first half of 2021 to the end of June, and around twenty-six thousand being added over the past three months. Many wages are also increasing, as many employers attempt to retain and attract employees in a contested market. Many students and graduates have so far taken advantage of the hot labour market. Boyd states that over the past financial year, students have secured around twenty-seven thousand jobs and over $110 million in income nationwide through the Student Job Search service.
However, this enthusiasm is not fully shared. AUSA Welfare Vice President Ishie Sharma told Craccum that while it’s great to see the unemployment rate as low as it is, students are still struggling within the labour market. The AUSA Welfare Vice President argues that “unemployment is still a significant issue for students, especially those undergoing hardships”. Using data from AUSA hardship grants, Sharma asserts that from 141 hardship grant applicants, 57% are unemployed as of this publication date. But Sharam says that this is not due to lack of trying. While the labour market is wide open for job-seekers, Sharma states that many students are unable to find sustainable employment that suits their university schedules, or other commitments, such as looking after dependents.
While the national unemployment rate drops and people enter (or re-enter) the workforce, opportunities beckon. Whether students and graduates from all backgrounds are able to fully benefit from these opportunities however, remains to be seen. The Student Job Search Chief Executive urges students and graduates looking for work to take advantage of the growing demand in the labour market and apply for work.
Resources and aid can be inquired about through AUSA on the UoA campus, and other Student Unions across tertiary institutes. Student Job Search can be found online on their website, SJS.co.nz.