Time to plug the gap in your skills shortage?

Posted by Ben Whittacker-Cook on 16/03/2021 10:30:00 AM

Any sudden change in the structure of a domestic or global economy inevitably leads to an uneven shift in job openings across industry and sector. How do you address this if you’re struggling to fill positions within your business?

skills blog

Not surprisingly, one of the predictable sideswipes from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the creation of a noticeable skills shortage or, more specifically, a talent shortage, for hundreds of businesses and recruiters nationwide.

In 2020 New Zealand alone, accommodation and food services lost 7,772 jobs, administrative and support services 5,340 and transport, postal and warehousing 4,871, according to careers.govt.nz. The following industries grew in the same time period; healthcare and social assistance created 8,816 new jobs, construction 8,563, and public administration and safety 7,630.

Why the skills shortage?

Skills shortages occur when there’s a general labour shortage due to job market conditions, such as low unemployment, when there aren't enough workers with the right skills available, and when turnover is high as unhappy workers seek better pay and working conditions elsewhere.

New Zealand has a comparatively small working population and, if you’re struggling to fill specific roles in your business, then numerically it follows that you’ll have a better chance of filling a vacant position if your organisation is based among a high concentration of people such as in Auckland or Wellington. 

Of course it's never that simple, but it's clear regional New Zealand is taking a hit currently in plugging the talent shortage. For example, in mid-2020, with its reliance on tourism and hospitality, Otago’s economy had been hit the hardest of all the regions, seeing a 15.6 % per annum drop in employees on 2019.

‘A growing number of the businesses I've talked to and work with are finding it difficult to recruit high-quality people at the moment,’ says Jamie Brock, Regional Lead for The Icehouse in the Bay of Plenty and programme director for the Business Owner Programme and Young Business Owner Programme.

Agile-thinking required...

Even if the talent is out there, attracting it is no easy feat and retention even trickier. So recruiters believe the challenge for 2021 is for organisations to stay flexible and agile, adjust existing business models and take forward-thinking and proactive attitudes to capability-building and commit to professional development. This will lure in the best candidates and secure their long-term commitment.

Jamie asks businesses to be more creative than ever. ‘We don't have as big a population to draw on. We live in a great location from a lifestyle perspective, but it’s up to businesses to promote themselves as being a place where employees can truly advance their long-term careers.

‘So businesses have to start treating prospects as if they were a customer. You have to actively go out and find them and draw them in by matching your potential to theirs. In the same way that you’d ask why a customer would want to buy from and stay with you, ask yourself why a worker would join you? ‘What investment can I make in them to help them develop and grow?’’

Capability building reassures owners that they are moving in the right direction to future-proof their business – by having the right people in the right positions, each possessing the right skills to work effectively and confidently. Weaving personal development and upskilling into the fabric of company culture is a good start.

There's more good news for employers. Financial comparison website Finder states that one in four New Zealanders are planning to upskill in the next six to 12 months: ‘In the shadow of COVID, 25% of Kiwis are looking to upskill because of the fear of unemployment.’ (New Zealand Herald).

Develop your recruitment model

The current climate dictates that many businesses have to walk the tightrope of being more structured than ever before in how they approach recruitment, while also being prepared to stay lean. 

‘Business owners need to understand that their recruitment strategy needs to be 12 months a year, not just when somebody hands in their resignation. The level of talent is getting thinner and thinner, particularly outside of Auckland and good profitable growth requires great people,’ says Icehouse coach Michaela Vodanovich.

For information on how capability building programmes, workshops and advisory can help your business,  click  here.

For more business ownership and leadership advice,  check out more of our blogs.

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Topics: Leadership, Business Strategy & Planning, The Icehouse, Professional Development, Innovation, Recruitment, Skill Shortage