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Human Resource & Change Management Consultants New Zealand

The Future of Our Workforce: 2008-2051

The challenges that employers are facing now in 2008 in recruiting staff can only be magnified many times over in future years. NZ (along with the rest of the world) is experiencing a dramatic demographic change with an aging population, birth rates declining and life expectancy increasing.

Today in OECD countries, mature workers are fleeing the workforce early which is placing demands on those left behind. Half the European men 55-64 years have stopped working 3-5 years before official retirement date. To help alleviate worker shortage, growing participation from groups under represented in domestic labour markets – mature workers, women and the disabled will be crucial. In the next 25 years, 70 million workers in OECD countries will retire to be replaced by 5 million entrants. In the US there will be 10 million more jobs than workers.

In NZ, 2004-2051, our population is expected to increase to 5 million with the largest growth of retirees occurring in 2011-2037 when the baby boomers (born 1946-1966) start to move into the 65+ year olds. They will add at least 100,000 to this age group every five years. It is predicted that by 2012, 50% of NZ`s population will be older than 42 years of age compared to 36 in 1991 and 39 in 2001. The age dependency ratio – which is the ratio that working people between 15-64 have to support is predicted to increase from 18 per 100 in 2004 to 45 per 100 in 2051. Maori and Pacific Island females will constitute a growing share of the labour force. Skilled NZ workers will be in international demand. Competition within NZ will be fierce for skilled workers.

What is our workforce likely to look at in the future? The demographics of a future workforce will be considerably different looking to those that many of us today have been used to:

  • Increasingly global mobility will be on the rise so there will be opportunities to recruit more from overseas.
  • The traditional career has been superseded by a model that has no boundaries.
  • Workers 65-69+ will continue to be employed in greater numbers to help make up the shortfall in the workforce (22% are currently employed).
    There will be more diverse age, gender and ethnicity in the workforce.
  • Love generation Y (those born between 1977 – 1994) – we need them!

NZ population is aging in line with other global trends and we cannot escape the impact that our declining workforce will have on all parts of society and the workforce that many today have been used to. New initiatives will be required to attract and train and there will be a fierce war for the skilled and unskilled workers.