The top jobs of 2015 – in demand and growing

top jobs of 2015

2015 was a year of job growth, with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) recording an increase of 6.9% in advertised vacancies for the year to November 2015. Numbers were gathered from vacancy websites and agencies in 2015 and the results compared to previous years.

Some professions that soared in demand surprised us. Who knew that models would be sought after? Or that NCEA Level 1 is the only requirement to enter training for 7 of the 16 fastest-growing jobs?

Will these jobs continue to be in demand in 2016? Let’s find out.

Which industry had the most vacancies in New Zealand in 2015?

Growth in job vacancies by industry November 2014 to November 2015

School leavers going into training are in luck – the industries most in demand need skills gained in certificates, degrees or apprenticeships. Also in luck are those leaving school with a strong background in English, history and maths: paperwork-heavy industries such as accounting, HR, legal and administration had the biggest increase in job vacancies. The increase in jobs in financial and legal services has been caused by the booming demand for houses and our ageing population needing trusts, wills and powers of attorney.

Students wishing to study tourism and hospitality could consider shorter courses. Vacancies have been growing fast since 2011, according to MBIE, but this year they started to level off with only a 6.3% rise in job vacancies – compared to October 2014’s 21.4% increase. Studying a shorter course means job seekers can enter the job market quickly before demand drops.

Skilled workers still needed

There were fewer vacancies for job seekers with gifted communication and motivation skills as marketing and sales had the lowest vacancy increase of 4.2% in 2015, but this was still a very good result. As these jobs involve tasks that aren’t facing the risk of automation, the outlook for future work in the industry is still steady.

Trade-bound school leavers have a more realistic picture of job chances with a 0.7% increase seen in construction industry vacancies. Overall construction vacancies have grown since 2011, but there are seasons where vacancies drop and then boom. Students should future-proof job chances by researching which trades are most in demand at a certain time – and expect change.

Further training within trades should also be considered. Simon Bennett, Chief Executive of AWF Madison Group, told the New Zealand Herald that opportunities for work in trades increase with upskilling as while there are many out there that can dig a hole, “someone has to maintain the machinery that does the digging”.

Which industries dropped in demand in 2015?

An 11% drop in job vacancies for the information technology (IT) industry was a less positive result. But students wishing to train in this industry don’t need to panic.

Helen Joronen, Wellington Regional Director of IT recruitment agency, Candle, told Careers New Zealand that the drop is a ‘blip’ that was anticipated, “because many organisations went into a ‘consolidation phase’ last year”. This year looks positive for those seeking IT work: “it’s going to be a very busy year for us [at Candle] and we’re very confident about the IT job market this year.”

What we know from the surprising construction and information technology job vacancy stats is that school leavers can’t always rely on job vacancy websites to find work and should be encouraged to attend employment expos and door-knock.

Using reliable sources such as the Careers New Zealand jobs database to research the demand for jobs within each industry will also help a student choose training for jobs that have high vacancies and a good future outlook.

What were the fastest-growing jobs in New Zealand in 2015?

Fastest-growing occupations November 2014 to November 2015

We’ve seen healthcare and construction-related industries in the fastest-growing job statistics since 2011, but there have been substantial jumps in particular jobs in these areas over the last year.

Students keen to leave school with only NCEA Level 1 and walk into a job may appreciate this: Floor finishers, whose trade is learned on the job, were in hot demand with a 108% increase in job vacancies in 2015. Other in-demand jobs that require NCEA Level 1 and offer on-the-job training were: couriers and posties, crane operators, credit and loan officers, real estate sales agents, product assemblers, models and sales demonstrators and some roles in the Defence Force.

Top of the charts with an increase of 109% were legal executives. School leavers need at least 14 credits in English at NCEA Level 2 to get into this job and, again, they are trained on the job.

School leavers will need NCEA Level 3 to get into training in the hot jobs of planner, solicitor and psychologist.

After cutbacks in recent years, the Defence Force is hiring again, with a 93% rise in job vacancies. In particular the hiring focus has been on female recruits, and NCEA Level 1 or Level 2 are starting points for getting into this career.

Caution as housing boom and ageing pushes job demand up

Ten of the top job results are linked to the housing boom and the workforce getting older. Demand for real estate agents is obvious, but legal executives and insurance investigators are needed for house sales paperwork and overseeing wills and trusts.

Will this last? MBIE predicts that demand for trade workers will decrease by 2.2% between 2014-2019, but demand for highly skilled jobs – such as electricians and solicitors – will grow.

There needs to be caution around training in some roles. For example, the demand for urban planners is for experienced workers, rather than new graduates.

Again, school leavers should check the Careers New Zealand jobs database to see what industry and government sources are saying about job outlooks before they study.

Why are some jobs not on the fastest-growing list?

DairyNZ told Stuff that 108 new dairy workers are needed each year until 2031, so why is dairy hand not on the top jobs list? Well, the diverse nature of dairy work may be the answer. Many different roles are in demand in the dairy industry now, not just dairy hands. And this is down to a change in technology. Rick Powdrell from the Federated Farmers board told stuff that “Technology is playing a huge part in farming. I’m of the hope that the technology side will drag a lot of young people in”.

Industries are becoming more specialised. Where a school leaver would once train to be an insurance officer, now they specialise as a claims officer, loss adjuster or commercial agent, spreading job vacancies across roles.

World events can trigger job vacancies. New Zealand had strong economic growth last year, due to sales and exports, so sales representative became a fast-growing job to keep up with demand.

Next steps

Students planning to leave school should look closely at all the information available on which areas and industries are growing fast.


 Our career advisers are here to help:

We’ll be bringing you our job predictions for the future soon!

Find out more about the jobs mentioned in this article


Christian, D, ‘High Skill Levels Needed for Trades’, 12 December 2015, (

Gulliver, A, ‘Low Female Defence Force Recruit Numbers ‘disturbing’’, 8 April 2015, (

Hall, G, ‘Agribusiness: Selling the Future of Farming’, 16 July 2015, (

Immigration New Zealand, ‘Skill Shortage List Checker’ 2015, (

Joronen, H, Wellington Regional Director, Candle, Careers New Zealand interview, January 2016.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘Jobs Online Monthly Report – November 2015’, November 2015, (

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘Medium-Long Term Employment Outlook Looking Ahead to 2024’, December 2015, (

Stylianou, N, Nurse, T, ‘Will a robot take your job?’, 11 September 2015, (

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