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NZ will be 250,000 workers short by 2048

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NZ will be 250,000 workers short by 2048

​A report into the labour market suggests the country will be short of a quarter of a million workers in 25 years' time.

The Business New Zealand commissioned research shows that gaps remain and will get worse - despite a record share of the working age population in employment.

To counter the ageing population, higher workforce participation was needed along with long-term migration, it said.

The report concludes that without migration, by 2048 there would be shortages in education, engineering and healthcare, with overall worker numbers shrinking from the early 2030s.

However, it also pointed to an over-supply of workers in management and commerce, creative arts, food hospitality and personal services in two decades' time.

Stable immigration policies were needed, Business New Zealand chief executive Kirk Hope said, as similar countries were also looking at how to deal with their changing demographics and drawing in more overseas workers.

"Without stable, long-term policy planning in the immigration space, we will be some quarter of a million workers short by 2048," Hope said.

"What we also say is that more policy development needs to occur in enabling more diverse populations to come into the workforce.

"So increasing the participation and employment of Māori, Pacific Islander, women and older people to help close the workforce gap. So it's not just about immigration, it's about how we ensure that we have fit for purpose labour force for the future."

Cyclical migration and political challenges in immigration had to be overcome, he said.

"It's really important for this government and future governments to ensure that they have stable, consistent immigration policy, and keep it simple so that New Zealand remains attractive globally for people to come to.

"What we're calling for is to take a long-term view around this, for consistent policy across political parties in relation to immigration and I think move away from dog whistle politics on immigration."