YEA Data Points

Jaron Vince on the age distribution of the full-time workers in Aotearoa.

According to the 2018 NZ Census, NZ rangatahi (15-24 years) who are working full-time are most likely working in accommodation and food services (roughly 35% of full-time workers are youth aged between 15 – 24 years) or retail trade (roughly 28% of full-time workers are youth aged 15 – 24 years). That accounts for roughly 33.3% of all rangatahi workers.

We asked Jaron Vince the Employment Liaison Team Leader at Tararua REAP (and YEA Stewardship Board member) his thoughts on the age distribution of the full-time workers in Aotearoa.

– What do you think about this?

I think food & beverage and retail industries play an important part in developing the employability skills of our youth! I know it was important for me!

Arguably, these roles are relatively easy to attain if you are work-ready and have the right attitude. Potential employees may not require much experience as the work is often very systems-based and these industries offer customer-centric training, help develop the skills and confidence to work with all types of people and potentially have great career opportunities.

The other benefit of a lot of these roles are the flexible hours, allowing rangatahi to earn while studying – I know a few tertiary students working 30-hour weeks while studying or studying part-time while working full-time.

I am really interested in seeing what effect that COVID-19 and the events of the last two years has had on our industries and the full-time staffing statistics. It would be great if we could find more up to date specific data on youth employment in the different industries. 

– Do you think that there are other industries that could be hiring more of our youth? For example, agriculture, construction, education, or road transport? 

Looking purely at the 2018 NZ Census data it was apparent Hospitals, Medical Services (3.1% of youth workers contribute to these industries) and Road Transport industries (1.2% of youth workers contribute to this industry) really needed to develop and implement strategies to attract and retain youth.  In my opinion, there is little to indicate there has been a positive change in the situation of an aging workforce and few young people going into those fields or obtaining their driving licences. However; we really need more and better statistics around youth employment to see if that is actually the case.

Two years of COVID-19 travel restrictions limiting the access to our immigrant workforce options has really highlighted how vulnerable our local economies and the other industries are – for instance, agriculture, construction, and manufacturing.

We’ve all heard about the aging population for decades but it has been hard to visualise what that actually means.  This might put things into perspective:
In 2000: 0% of NZ Councils had more elderly than children
In 2011: 15% of NZ Councils had more elderly than children
In 2021: 55%  of NZ Councils had more elderly than children
By 2031: 90% of NZ Councils are expected to have more elderly than children

This is not a problem faced by NZ alone – it is a global phenomenon…

This is why the work of YEA and the YEA Collective is so important! We are past the point where we can leave the transition from school to work to luck.  All industries need to implement sustainable systems to bring in and retain youth, automate what can be automated, and to upskill their current staff if they haven’t already.  

Percentage of youth workers (15 – 24 years) in industry, NZ Census, 2018

Industry Field Percentage of youth
workers (15 – 24 years) in industry

Accommodation and Food Services


Retail Trade


Arts and Recreation Services


Administrative and Support Services




Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing


Information Media and Telecommunications


Other Services




Wholesale Trade


Transport, Postal and Warehousing


Professional, Scientific and Technical Services


Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services


Financial and Insurance Services 


Public Administration and Safety


Education and Training


Financial and Insurance Services


Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services


Health Care and Social Assistance