Skills shortage in the Bay: How to attract key talent

Earlier this year, a joint survey conducted by the upper North Island Chambers of Commerce found that more than 1300 companies are in desperate need for skills at all levels.

The Tauranga component of the survey showed that 82% of businesses were experiencing shortages across a range of sectors including administration, accounting, hospitality, manufacturing and more.

The survey indicated, on average, that businesses had multiple positions to be filled, with the average length of time a job was vacant being anywhere between three to six months, through to a year.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce CEO Matt Cowley says it’s a tough time for employers, who are trying to find the right person, with the right skills, and who would also be a good team fit.

“There are candidates applying for roles, but many are overseas candidates without visas. Those in New Zealand might be senior when the role is more suitable for a junior, or the vice versa.

“Anecdotally, our members tell us that some of the challenges they face include job expectations by potential recruits, visa issues to hire internationally or bring team members here, as well as a small talent pool driving salaries up.”

Ange Singleton, General Manager at 1st Call Recruitment, says this time has never been busier across most sectors in New Zealand for all recruiters.

“Recruiters are usually the first to see if there is going to be a shift either way based on volume of requests or dropping of staff. All 2021 has been a booming year and with the shutdowns it will continue to increase as there is now a substantial backlog.”

However, she acknowledges it is a very distressing time for businesses, with the potential loss of projects and businesses giving up if they can’t get the right staff.

“We have seen this already in late 2020 and in 2021 for a number of major clients, who are unable to tender for large projects without proven workforce to complete the roles.”

Alex Barrett, Future of Work Advisor at Priority One (pictured), says in the Western Bay 40,000 new jobs will be created in the next 30 years and employers need to prepare for this by looking at their approach to recruitment.

“Currently, we have a talent shortage and a skills mismatch, meaning the skills that are in demand are not readily available in our talent pool and we are hearing of this talent shortage across multiple sectors in Tauranga Moana.

“Looking at different ways of attracting talent is key and retaining the talent that businesses currently have is important now more than ever. The values of an organisation and the wellbeing experience for employees are all things that shine through in the current war for talent.”

Megan Davies and Morwenna Tutt from Your HR Partners says businesses need to get creative and seek to adapt to the challenges presented.

“Take advantage of the gig economy – outsource certain expertise, or hire freelancers, temps or contractors for certain roles or tasks. Consider all flexible working options, arrangements such as job sharing are becoming increasingly common and open you up to a whole new group of skilled people who want to work part-time.

“Look to upskill existing employees or work alongside appropriate educational facilities to tap into new talent. Think about how and who you are recruiting – in some situations it may be more important to recruit for the right passion, motivation and team fit and teach the skills on the job.”

The pair also say that the workplace environment is changing and employers need to offer more than just great pay to attract key talent.

“Great people are not only looking for greater autonomy and flexibility in terms of when, where and how they get their work done, but also workplaces that understand the importance of the human aspects at work – a strong sense of purpose that aligns to their own, meaningful work, a place where they feel valued and feel they belong, caring teammates and the potential for growth and development.”

Workplace culture also plays a pivotal role in this, as a positive culture “engages people, positively impacts on the customer experience, and reflects in your reputation, meaning greater interest from prospective candidates, putting your business a step ahead when you recruit”.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce is hosting a series of workshops, in conjunction with Priority One and Your HR Partners, to support local businesses to create environments that attract and retain great talent. 

If you’re a member of Priority One, you are entitled to a further discount on your course fees. Please indicate this when registering for the event.

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