Hidden Links, New Opportunities: How big data and job clusters can improve the 1.2 million job matches in New Zealand each year

Every year, there are 1.2 million job matches between employers and job seekers in New Zealand. Four in 10 workers stay in their roles for 12 months or less, at a significant cost to employers, employees and the labour market.

AlphaBeta’s “Hidden Links, New Opportunities” report, commissioned by the Tertiary Education Commission, proposes to improve labour market matching by better understanding the skills needs, preferences and demands of employers in New Zealand.

We analysed more than one million job ads, employment trends and skill profiles in New Zealand to identify six main clusters of jobs: inventors; organisers; healers; engagers; crafters; and operators. Each cluster is underpinned by different core skill requirements. For example, one in three ‘Engager’ job ads demand sales and communication skills, while 39% of ‘Inventor’ ads ask for communication skills, about one in five ask for project management, and one in 10 ask for problem solving.

Our research shows that jobs across the economy are more closely related than commonly thought. On average, a person trained for one job learns skills that are portable to 12 other jobs. Knowing the extent to which skill sets are portable could help New Zealanders broaden their career horizons. This is particularly useful for workers facing shrinking opportunities in declining industries, or those who decide to embark on a new line of work.

The clusters framework could also help employers address skills shortages by broadening the range of potential recruits, and help training providers design courses that better meet industry demand.

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