Wages stagnating in Papua New Guinea according to salary survey


A recent salary survey has identified the need for investment in local talent to support better outcomes for the country’s professionals and organisations. The 2018/19 Papua New Guinea Salary Survey Report by human resources consultancy Peopleconnexion PNG surveyed professionals across the country about salaries and attitudes to work.

Likelihood of changing jobs in the next year Source: Peopleconnexion

The research uncovered stagnating wage growth over the last two years in most industries as organisations adapt to the downturn in the resources sector.

Wages in Port Moresby were reported as being ‘significantly higher’ than in the rest of the country.

But, when it comes to management or specialised professions such as engineers or aviation professionals, positions based in remote or regional hubs are likely to have higher base salaries and more comprehensive packaging options available.

This is despite there being lower levels of hiring activity.

‘The mining, oil and gas industries in particular continue to pay a premium for remote workers,’ the report says.

Gender parity

Key findings from the report highlight gender parity as a major ongoing challenge in Papua New Guinea. According to the report, women surveyed earned considerably less than men with the same level of qualifications and years of experience.

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The report notes that there has been a greater focus on gender equality in recent years by large businesses, however more work is still needed to achieve better outcomes.

‘The research highlights the need for strong strategies to address retention.’

‘There is anecdotal evidence worldwide suggesting that (when there is investment in gender equality) there is a clear business case to improving business profitability.’

‘A major implication of skill shortages throughout the country is the prevalence of the expatriate workforce,’ the report says.

Discrepancies between salaries were observed throughout the survey between expatriates and PNG citizens.


The research also highlights the need for strong strategies to address retention.

‘Papua New Guinea is known for having a particularly high level of [staff] turnover, which in turn, reduces the incentive for organisations to invest and train staff, creating a destructive “loop”.

‘The need for career development outranked the need for better remuneration.’

‘This can create major challenges for organisations as they aim to grow and expand operations.’

Peopleconnexion examined workers’ motivations for making a career move.

The No.1 motivation was career development (35 per cent of professionals ranked it as most important), followed by better remuneration (25 per cent) and leadership opportunities (12 per cent).

Career development

The need for career development outranked the need for better remuneration in every industry except community services and development.

‘A desire for further career development was recorded strongly from the education and training, real estate and property, manufacturing and production industries,’ the report says.

‘Professionals in real estate and property, science and technology, telecommunications and trades however, were more likely to prioritise better remuneration than other industries.

‘Organisations must make serious investments in professional training.’

‘A need for work-life balance was identified strongly in the defence and military industries, sales and marketing, engineering, and mining and resources.

‘Leadership opportunities were more likely to be the most important factor when choosing a new career for professionals in the science and technology sector, agriculture, advertising and banking and financial services.

In our experience, these factors have a strong effect on retention, in addition to attracting talent to new roles.’


The report says to achieve ‘enduring economic growth and sustainable opportunities to all Papua New Guineans, organisations must make serious investments in professional training, strategic recruitment and succession planning.

‘These are not easy processes. Conducting internal audits of pay scales, remuneration packages, workforce demographics, and succession plans can be lengthy and resource-intensive processes requiring training and upskilling of current staff.

‘However, to build a strong organisation able to withstand economic and demographic change, it is necessary to establish strong foundations.

‘It will take a collaborative effort by multiple stakeholders—organisations, education providers, government and Papua New Guinean citizens themselves—to invest in the careers of professionals throughout the country.’

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