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Experience of the trades workforce
Key findings

New Zealand’s trades workforce has had an increase in the rate at which inexperienced workers joined the sector. This has shown to have decreased the average experience level, which is a useful measure of the skilfulness of that workforce. This study has outlined that there is a trade-off between the rate at which the workforce increases its size and the experience of that workforce.

Introduction

The experience of a workforce is a measure of the skilfulness of that workforce. Experience is measured here by how many years a worker has in the industry. The rate at which a workforce increases its size impacts the experience level. In New Zealand, there is an increasing demand for trade workers. There is a trade-off between the rate at which the workforce takes on new trainees and the average experience level of the workforce. This study explores New Zealand trades workforce to outline the effects of this changing workforce on the experience level.

Snapshot

The tax data for 2018 is incomplete so when looking at a snapshot of the experience of the trades workforce it is more accurate to look at 2017. The entire workforce in 2017 had an average experience level of 5.3 years. For those that were self-employed, they had an average of 6.7 years’ experience while employees had 4.7 years’ experience on average.

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Methodology

From workers found in IRD tax records who work at least three months in a year we determine the experience these workers have had in their sector in the 10 years prior to their work date.

For self-employed workers we can usually only see income on a yearly basis, thus employment defined in 12 month blocks meaning few are found with 0 years (0 - 11 months) experience.

Note that self-employed tax records are not complete yet for 2018.

Over time

The total number of trade workers has been increasing since 2011. This has been caused by an increasing number of individuals entering the trades workforce each year. There has been a 36% increase in employees with over 9 years’ experience. Despite this, the influx of new employees each year with no experience has increased by 75% which has caused the average experience of employees in the workforce to drop from 4.9 years to 4.6 years. The total number of self-employed workers has sustained over the years with a constant average level of experience.

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Methodology

From workers found in IRD tax records who work at least three months in a year we determine the experience these workers have had in their sector in the 10 years prior to their work date.

For self-employed workers we can usually only see income on a yearly basis, thus employment defined in 12 month blocks meaning few are found with 0 years (0 - 11 months) experience.

Note that self-employed tax records are not complete for 2018.

By region

The chart below breaks down a snapshot of each region by the experience level of their trades’ workforce. West Coast and Southland have the most experienced workforce, while the likes of Northland and Marlborough have a higher proportion of less-experienced workers.

From the chart above, Experience of the workforce over time, the data can be adjusted to view one region at a time. From this, it can be observed that Southland has had a steadier workforce size with an increase in more experienced workers. This demonstrates that Southland has had a lower intake of inexperienced workers than the other regions. Whereas, when looking at the likes of Wellington or Auckland, there is an overall increase in the workforce size mostly due to the uptake of more inexperienced workers, thus a decreasing average experience level.

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Methodology

From workers found in IRD tax records who work at least three months in a year we determine the experience these workers have had in their sector in the 10 years prior to their work date.

For self-employed workers we can usually only see income on a yearly basis, thus employment defined in 12 month blocks meaning few are found with 0 years (0 - 11 months) experience.

Note that self-employed tax records are not complete yet for 2018.