Delays expected for building consent applications: Following a significant surge in consents lodged at the end of April, applicants should expect some delays to current building consents waiting to be processed. More information is available Building Services - QLDC

Friday, 26 May 2023

Workforce squeeze eases for Queenstown Lakes as retention becomes focus

The latest quarterly labour market snapshot report for Queenstown Lakes shows a sharp lift in the availability of workers for the district.

Report Graph

The latest quarterly labour market snapshot report for Queenstown Lakes shows a sharp lift in the availability of workers for the district.

As well as labour market growth of 2,500 additional jobs compared to one year ago, hospitality employment is up to 85% of pre-COVID levels compared to 67% this time last year.

Report author and economist Benje Patterson said this is primarily due to a rise in workforce participation by women and youth, where employers have tapped into previously under-utilised parts of the labour market.

“But not all is roses. Signs are mounting of a profit squeeze for businesses, which has led to wages not rising as fast as they were. Retaining staff as we move towards the winter season will now be the big challenge, particularly as it is getting harder to just write bigger pay cheques and housing availability remains tight.

“Increasingly, good employers are finding other ways to encourage people to stay by fostering a great workplace environment.”

Mr Patterson’s latest report highlighted available data reflecting employee sentiment in the district. It found that local worker sentiment is slightly better than the national average for tourism and hospitality workers. On the other hand, there is some evidence from Queenstown Lakes District Council’s (QLDC) Quality of Life survey that sentiment has deteriorated amongst local workers over recent years.

Mr Patterson called for an increased focus on evidence to monitor employee sentiment and its drivers for Queenstown Lakes, consistent with the government and tourism industry partnership’s commitment to a nationwide monitoring and evaluation framework in its ‘Better Work Action Plan.’

QLDC Economic Development Manager Peter Harris supported this approach.

"It’s heartening to see more vacancies being filled. However, encouraging those workers to choose to stay in the district is key. Alongside the practicalities of work, how people feel about their job and the team they work in plays an important part in whether staff stay or move on.

Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Sharon Fifield agreed that investment in employee satisfaction is vital in today’s competitive environment. 

“Funding towards implementation of the ‘Better Work Action Plan’ for tourism, announced in Budget 2023, includes an accreditation scheme to encourage employer best practice. MahiQL, a district-wide workforce strategy and planning initiative led by the Chamber, would be the perfect partner for government to design, test and pilot the nationwide approach.”

Ms Fifield added “we are building up to a busy winter season and worker accommodation still remains a challenge. It's promising to see so many businesses working to find solutions to ease pressures for their staff, as ultimately having a healthy, secure and affordable place to live is essential for attracting and retaining staff.”

The report is available on QLDC’s website at:


Media contact: or call 03 441 1802.

FURTHER INFORMATION | Kā pāroko tāpiri

MahiQL is a collaborative approach to workforce planning for the Queenstown Lakes District led by the Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce.  It has engaged with employers, workers and agencies across the district towards completion of a workforce strategy and associated action plan by August 2023.

About the Queenstown Lakes labour market snapshot quarterly report

The quarterly report is commissioned by Queenstown Lakes District Council and prepared by independent economist Benje Patterson of People & Places. Supported by Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce, the report was originally commissioned in 2021 in response to a demand to understand workforce challenges in the district. Previous reports are published on the QLDC website.