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The Waikato Region’s Construction Sector


Waikato’s strong population growth has fuelled high rates of construction around the region, from residential homes and developments to industrial and infrastructure projects.

Construction in the Waikato

More than 7,000 Waikato construction businesses employ over 30,000 people across the region. The sector is the third-largest employer in Waikato, and it’s forecast to be the third highest growth by industry from 2021-2026 (11.2%). 

From 2023 onwards, over $21 billion of infrastructure investment (vertical and horizontal) is estimated to be carried out in the Waikato region. More information can be found on the Workforce Information Platform (WIP): a forecasting tool that displays national and regional gaps and surpluses within the construction and infrastructure labour market.  

Waikato construction projects range broadly from residential homes and subdivisions to civic infrastructure, roading and industrial/commercial developments. A 2022 Te Waka survey found roading and affordable housing are seen as the two highest priority infrastructure requirements among business owners. 

Trade businesses have the highest self-employment rate in Waikato at 24.4% (compared to a 17.5% regional average). With national skills shortages, there are good opportunities for sole traders to expand their workforces by taking on apprentices in order to help meet increased demand.

Why Waikato?

Statistics NZ expects Waikato will have the largest population growth of all New Zealand’s 16 regions between 2018-2048, with an average of 1% per year. More people require more housing, community infrastructure and services, which will fuel Waikato construction projects for years to come. 

The region is already seeing signs of construction growth that is expected to continue. Building consents in September 2022 were 14% up on the year prior. Nearly 5,000 new dwellings were consented across Waikato in the year to September 2021, up 23% on the previous 12 months.  

Development in recent years has helped to grow expertise within the region, as well as deliver on identified needs within the community. The Waikato Expressway, which opened in 2022 is one example of an infrastructure project with generational benefits that’s helped to make the region more accessible and connected. 

Demand for construction expertise all over the Waikato region has arguably never been higher, and it’s expected this will only continue for the foreseeable future.

Te Waka and the Construction Sector

Trade skills are in demand all over Aotearoa New Zealand, and the Waikato construction sector is no different. Te Waka research found 67% of local business owners believe the construction industry needs more people - the equal highest alongside the health sector. 

As demand for construction projects continues, more and more people will be employed within the sector. Te Waka is involved in the Waikato Regional Skills Leadership Group, which supports advocacy and initiatives to address skill shortages - including for the construction sector. 

Workforce Development in the Construction Sector

Waihanga Ara Rau, the Workforce Development Council for Construction and Infrastructure, undertakes modelling for workforce projections for the Waikato region. The work is built from the Workforce Information Platform, and uses forecast modelling data to inform indicative workforce numbers. These numbers are shared with the Regional Skills Leadership Group. Read more about Waihanga Ara Rau here.  

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