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Career prospects in the manufacturing industries

A career in the manufacturing industry offers many pathways and specialisations.

Over time, an experienced manufacturing worker may advance to management
positions, or owning their own business. Elsewhere in this report, you can find more
detailed advice on some specific occupations that support the manufacturing
sector: engineering professionals, science technicians, ICT analysts and technicians,
software developers and automotive technicians. This chapter sets out the broad
trends affecting the manufacturing industry as a whole.
What jobs are available? Manufacturing firms employed over 188,000 people in New
Zealand in 20131 . About one-third are employed in manufacturing connected to the
dairy and other food industries. 18% work in manufacturing of equipment
(professional and scientific through to furniture), 16% are employed in
manufacturing associated with metal products (iron and steel forging through to
automotive and other transport manufacturing), 14% are employed in
manufacturing connected with the forestry industry (log sawmilling through to
paper manufacture and the media), and 11% are in jobs connected to chemical
manufacturing (non-metallic). Note that New Zealands manufacturing is dominated
by processing of primary produce such as food, wood, leather, beverages, and pulp
and paper. The jobs that people have in manufacturing include managers,
designers, engineers, process workers, ICT professionals, clerical and support staff,
sales and marketing, and drivers.
What are the job prospects? New Zealands high and medium-technology
manufacturing industries are a small part of our economy, but are growing rapidly.
High-tech manufacturing includes pharmaceuticals, aircraft manufacturing,
professional and scientific equipment manufacturing and computer and electronic
manufacturing. It accounts for 0.7 per cent of our GDP and 3 per cent of total
exports. Mediumhigh tech manufacturing products range from domestic appliances
to milking machines, from insecticides to motor vehicle parts. It accounts for 1.4 per
cent of our GDP and 6 per cent of total exports. The Government has targeted these
sectors for growth, as part of its target to increase exports to 40 per cent of GDP by
2025. New Zealands traditional manufacturing sector, with its focus on primary
processing (such as dairy manufacturing), will remain important as well, and more
information on these industries is given in the chapter on career prospects in the
primary industry. MBIE forecasts that employment in the primary processing will
grow at 1.3 per cent per year between 2013 and 2018, and other manufacturing will
grow by 2.6 per cent, compared to total employment growth of 2.1 per cent.


The manufacturing sector is part of the goods-producing industriessupersector

group. The Manufacturing sector comprises establishments engaged in the mechanical,

physical, or chemical transformation of materials, substances, or components into new


What's it like working in the sector?

Graduates entering the engineering and manufacturing sector can expect:

to work in different environments depending on the industry. You could work in a factory, office,

laboratory or even on an oil rig;

to have a mean average starting salary of 26,019. This is the second highest for graduates

according to the HESA Destination of Leavers in Higher Education Survey 2012/13;

to work differing hours depending on your role: off-shore engineering assignments require shift
work, typically 12 hours on 12 hours off, manufacturing may require working evenings and
weekends, while those working in an office will have a 9am to 5pm working week.

What are the key issues in the engineering and

manufacturing sector?
According to the Engineering UK 2014 report, overall demand for engineering and manufacturing recruits
is up by 40% compared to June 2012. There are a number of areas where recruitment is on the increase

Aerospace - a global increase in air traffic means this industry is expected to grow at a rate of

6.8% over the next few years.

Automotive - there is a need for engineers that can design and manufacture innovative and high

quality components.
Oil and gas - currently employing more than 400,000 people across the UK, a renewed interest

in North Sea oil and shale gas production could create 74,000 jobs by 2030.
Nuclear - over the coming decades the industry is set for global expansion, including new nuclear
reactors and decommissioning those that are coming off line.