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Supply of cultural skills and training research report, The (June 2008 )

The Ministry commissioned The Nielsen Company in early 2008 to examine the skills and training needs in the cultural sector, specifically across eight distinct sub-sectors; namely libraries and archives, museums, historic heritage, music, the performing arts, screen, literature and the visual arts.

Read the full report as a pdf  (620k)

Executive summary

  • In examining the skills needs within the sector it is important to distinguish between skills shortages and skills gaps. Skills shortages occur when employers have difficulty filling job vacancies because of a lack of individuals applying to fill the vacancies, while skills gaps refer to the deficiencies within the existing workforce in terms of their capability to carry out their current roles.
  • The Cultural sector is relatively small in terms of employment share. Falling under the Cultural and Recreational Services industry, this group is the third smallest industry in New Zealand, accounting for only 2.7% of all employed people in 2007.
  • Overall, a New Zealand Institute of Economic Research show in their Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion that a net 46% of all businesses reported a difficulty in finding skilled labour, while a net 33% reported a similar difficulty in finding unskilled labour to fill jobs in the December 2007 quarter.
  • The New Zealand labour market is made up of nearly a fifth (19%) of people who have no formal qualifications, while a further 24% have only obtained school level qualifications. As such, more than two fifths of the current workforce may lack the skills that a modern economy requires.
  • Statistics New Zealand show that in 2001 there were just over 100,000 people employed in paid Cultural employment (that is within the Cultural sector and for organisations in other sectors), making up approximately 6% of all people in paid employment.

The Cultural sector

  • The business base within the Cultural sector is dominated by the Visual Arts sub-sector, accounting for 33% of all organisations, and Music and the Performing Arts (28%) and Screen (25%).
  • One in seven (15%) Cultural organisations employ 10 or more staff, compared with fewer than 5% for the economy as a whole.
  • While three quarters (75%) of the organisations surveyed do not have any volunteer staff working for them, one in twenty (6%) are entirely staffed by volunteers.
  • Most organisations in the sector (65%) employ freelancers or contractors, rising to 81% in the Screen sub-sector.
  • Three fifths (63%) of Cultural organisations have been operational for 10 years or more and only 1% had been established within 12 months of the survey. Younger organisations are more likely to be found in the Visual Arts sub-sector, with this sub-sector accounting for more than half (57%) of those organisations that have been trading for two years or less.
  • The Literature sub-sector accounts for 30% of employees working in the Cultural sector (which is more than three times its share of the business base), while more than one in ten employees work in the Libraries and
  • Archives and Museums sub-sectors (twice their share of the business base).
  • Half of the employees in organisations with two or more staff work in either Managerial or Professional roles (22% and 28% respectively).
  • Nearly two thirds (63%) of organisations within the sector with two or more employees had remained the same size as compared with 12 months prior to the survey, with a net +13% having taken on extra staff.
  • Little variation is shown between the different sub-sectors, although the Screen sub-sector does appear to have grown the most, with 37% of organisations reporting having taken on more staff than 12 months ago.
  • When asked to predict staff numbers over the next 12 months, almost a quarter of organisations believe they will have more staff than they currently employ, while just over 70% expect their staff numbers to remain about the same (a net increase of +20%).
  • The Literature sub-sector is most likely to anticipate no change in staff numbers over the next 12 months (87%), while the Screen, and the Music and the Performing Arts sub-sectors are shown to be the most positive about employment levels in the future (a net increase of +28% and +26% respectively).

Historic heritage sub-sector

  • Due to a low number of contacts for the Historic Heritage sub-sector, it was not possible to interview a sufficient number of organisations as part of the wider business survey. Instead, we summarise the results from the seven business survey interviews together with the five more in-depth stakeholder interviews.
  • Most organisations in this sub-sector have been operating for over 10 years and staffing levels vary with a mix of full- and part-time employees. Key employed positions are professionals, managers, community and personal service workers, clerical/admin staff, technicians and trades workers.
  • Although this sub-sector has a relatively low staff turnover, many of the organisations experience skill shortages due to lack of training at the tertiary level.
  • Organisations do have skills shortages in professional or technical roles, particularly conservation architects, building conservators, architectural historians, heritage engineering, planners, and world heritage advisors.
  • Given the nature of the work, skills gaps tend to be very specific and technical (e.g. heritage identification/engineering, architectural historians, archaeological knowledge), but are similar across the sub-sector.


Updated on 23rd July 2015