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​Are skills shortages still holding back Kiwi businesses?

​Are skills shortages still holding back Kiwi businesses?

Why the persistent skills shortages in New Zealand require a solution-led response.

The persistent skills shortages in New Zealand require a solution-led response, as a lack of talent continues to hold New Zealand businesses back.

Recent findings from the Auckland Chamber of Commerce quarterly survey show that 41 percent of the businesses up and down the country are now finding it harder to recruit skilled staff compared to the 35 percent a quarter before, in February 2016.

“There has been a persistent skills shortage in Auckland for some time,” says Michael Barnett, CEO, Auckland Chamber.

“Once again, our Chamber survey reinforces that Auckland needs a standalone talent recruitment campaign to address this issue that prevents Auckland businesses from growing.”

Going forward, Barnett advocates a talent recruitment campaign that links with universities providing the skills in demand, with offshore recruitment via the Immigration department and training Aucklanders for employment among the dimensions we need to focus on.

“The many agencies and organisations involved need to find a way to work together and focus on the vocations where skills are in high demand,” Barnett adds.

“While a number of organisations, including the Auckland Chamber, are supporting skills training programmes, plainly we are not yet doing enough to meet the demands of the market.”

“Auckland is buzzing”

Despite the ongoing skills shortage in New Zealand, business confidence continues in an upward trend, with “Auckland buzzing” with activity.

As such, business confidence in Auckland has continued its rise for the third straight quarter, with 51 percent of organisations predicting growth for the rest of the year, compared to 40 percent a quarter previous.

“Putting these factors together, Auckland is buzzing,” Barnett adds. “We can justifiably say that the city’s fast pace of growth is a boost to business activity.

“The 28 percent of respondents citing demand as a limiting factor to their ability to expand tells me we need to do much more to encourage businesses to get into exporting.”

When asked whether the general business situation in New Zealand will improve, remain the same or deteriorate in the next six months, 23 percent of respondents believe the general situation will improve over the next six months compared to just 12 percent of this view last February.

Among other findings, 41 percent of businesses expect it to be harder to find skills in the next three months, up from the 35 percent of this view in the February.

In addition, 32 percent of respondents expect interest rates to fall over the next 12 months compared to just 11 percent expecting them to increase.

Going forward, 28 percent of respondents report that demand is the most limiting factor limiting their ability expand, followed by finance 23 percent and capacity and labour both 16 percent.

But as Barnett acknowledged, the difficulties businesses are having finding skilled workers remains a “major concern”.

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