Skilled job vacancies fall further

Online job ads fell 6.3 per cent in December, with jobs for skilled workers declining the most.

New figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) show skilled vacancies dropped 5.6 per cent in December compared with the previous month.

The picture improved slightly for the full year to December, during which overall vacancies rose 0.6 per cent and skilled vacancies eased 1.5 per cent.

The figures compare with recent results from Trade Me and the ANZ surveys.

MBIE spokesman David Paterson said advertisements for skilled workers had been declining for several months.

"While there is some variation from month to month in the seasonally adjusted series, the trend in skilled vacancies has been slowly falling since August 2012," he said.

However, Phillipa Solomon, operations manager for recruitment agency Randstad in Wellington, noted that many skilled jobs were filled through contacts rather than jobs boards.

"I think the market's picked up in the last couple of weeks where we've seen some more job ads put on online," she said.

"But also with the skilled workers there's a wide range of resources such as LinkedIn ... where people are able to contact candidates directly."

Most industries experienced a fall in vacancies ahead of Christmas, most acutely in the IT industry (down 15.5 per cent), but hospitality and tourism bucked the trend with a 5.7 per cent increase, the MBIE figures show.

The same trends were seen over the year, with hospitality and tourism up 20 per cent and demand for IT workers down 26 per cent.

Vacancies increased for most skilled worker groups, particularly in construction and engineering (up 40.6 per cent).

It was not a good year for professionals generally, with online vacancies down 11.4 per cent, while demand rose for technicians and tradies (up 15.2 per cent) and slightly for managers (up 2.3 per cent).

However, Solomon thought the drop in IT advertisements was partly due to a number of internal promotions of temporary staff and a swing towards contracting.

"The trend we're seeing at the moment is in contracting, particularly in Wellington where there are a number of big projects on," she said.

Among the main centres, Wellington scored worst for a decline in skilled job vacancies in December, down 11.4 per cent, followed by Canterbury (down 10.9 per cent) and Auckland (down 5.4 per cent).

But excluding Auckland and Wellington, there were strong signals of provincial hiring in the North Island, where job ads rose 1.8 per cent.

In the year to December, Canterbury online vacancies grew 4.4 per cent, pulled upwards by a huge 58 per cent surge in construction and engineering jobs and a 20 per cent rise in sales, retail, marketing and advertising.

Wellington felt the sharp edge of government job cuts, down 11 per cent, and Auckland job ads eased 4.2 per cent on an annual basis.

The rest of the North Island remained healthy for job creation, up 11.2 per cent, and the South Island excluding Christchurch slid 1 per cent.

The MBIE data compares with those from online website Trade Me which recently saw its December quarter job listings decline slightly to 11.4 per cent growth on a year ago, versus 12.3 per cent growth in the previous quarter.

The ANZ Job Ads series also showed only a marginal 0.4 per cent gain in job ads in December, driven by a lift in newspaper ads.