Job Prospects... At a glance
Job prospects are quite good for skilled factory workers, but not as good for unskilled workers. Overall income is slightly lower than average but employment is expected to increase (especially for skilled workers). In general, factory workers are becoming increasingly skilled. This could make it harder for unskilled factory workers to find work in the future.
Factory workers work in manufacturing factories and plants in a wide range of industries dealing with all types of products, including timber, pulp and paper, food and drink, plastics, textiles, chemicals, and energy.
Jobs can range from very manual simple tasks to the operation of complex machinery in plants where safety is a critical concern. The work can be repetitive and sometimes physically demanding, but also quite technical and highly responsible where the operation of large machinery is concerned.
The level of responsibility and risk is reflected in a wide range of income levels. At the low end, simple, low-skilled tasks generally command low incomes, whereas at the other end, the operation of highly complex machines in large plants may command quite high incomes. Most factory workers will be at the lower end of the scale, however.
According to the latest information from the New Zealand and Australian online job ads, some of the top skills employers look for include:
Source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight™ Real-time Labor Market Information tool
In general, there are no entry requirements to work as a factory worker, but some roles may require considerable on-the-job training, particularly where complex machinery is involved. There may be opportunities to gain a qualification through on-the-job training. These will often be New Zealand certificates ranging through Levels 1 to 5.
Although qualifications are not essential, employers will be looking for employees who turn up to work on time and can do a good job. Drug testing may be required in some factories and plants, particularly where the operation of machinery is involved.
|Learn on the job|
The least expensive way to train as a factor worker is to learn on the job. Some employers may support employees to gain national certificates in the relevant forms of factory processing work involved.
Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.
The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.
The Industry Training Organisations (ITO) that look after training for factory workers are Competenz and the Primary ITO. They arrange training nationwide.
There are institutions offering a relevant qualification in most parts of New Zealand.
Qualifications are not required for the great majority of factory workers entering the job.
The 2016 annual income for factory workers is estimated to be around $40,600. Inexperienced factory workers may start out on the minimum wage or the training wage.
|Estimated Average Income|
Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index
Factory Workers’ employment
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
* Projected growth rates are based on the category “839 Miscellaneous Factory Process Workers”.
The number of factory workers in employment fell heavily from 2006 to 2013. This reflects an overall decline in manufacturing employment from 2009 (after the Global Financial Crisis) to 2013. Since then, employment has stabilised and even increased slightly. Steady growth is expected into the future.
Factory worker employment is also subject to pressures from automation and mechanisation, which may reduce the number of unskilled workers required. On the other hand, the number of skilled and more highly rewarded factory workers, who operate more complex machinery, may increase.
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections
Factory workers are not on Immigration New Zealand's skill shortage lists.
Immigration NZ, skill shortage list: skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz
The number of online job vacancies for factory workers has increased steadily from 2010 to 2014, and has been fairly steady since.
Jobs advertised chart
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
Factory worker vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites. Employment in this industry can also be found by proactively approaching employers.
Factory work is diverse; so are workers’ career paths. In the past, factory work was often regarded as a job you could stay in for your whole career without changing. This is no longer the case. As the technology and production methods change, so do the factory jobs, and workers may have to get more training or education to be able to keep up.
Some factory workers move into supervisory or managerial positions.
Competenz and the Primary ITO have more information on career opportunities for factory workers.
The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level factory workers.
More information on factory workers is available on the Careers New Zealand website and through the "Just the Job" video.
Careers New Zealand: www.careers.govt.nz
Just the Job video clip: A Career as a Production Worker - Bottling Industry
The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.
The occupation of factory workers has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for their purpose of this report:
3992 – Chemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Generation Plant Operators
399916 – Plastics Technician
711 – Machine Operators
7115 – Plastics and Rubber Production Machine Operators
7116 – Sewing Machinists
7122 – Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers
7129 – Other Stationary Plant Operators
831 – Food Process Workers
832 – Packers and Product Assemblers
839 – Miscellaneous Factory Process Workers