Upskilling workforce key to survival

Last updated 12:32 05/03/2013

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Although 83 per cent of Kiwi businesses reported in a survey that a shortage of skilled workers was hurting their business, few have programmes to attract key staff or to keep the ones they have engaged.

Deloitte's third annual Talent Edge New Zealand survey, conducted late last year, had over 300 respondents from managers across a range of economic sectors and different sized companies.

The skill shortage was widespread across all sectors and was identified as the single largest talent challenge.

According to survey respondents, the types of skills in shortest supply were critical thinking and problem solving (45 per cent), general management/leadership (38 per cent) and initiative and drive (31 per cent).

In terms of roles, operations staff were reported in short supply most frequently (37 per cent) followed by IT staff (25 per cent), sales staff (23 per cent) and executive leadership (22 per cent).

Deloitte partner Richard Kleinert, who leads the firm's human capital practice in New Zealand and for the Asia-Pacific region, said it was time to confront the disconnect between what's needed to address talent challenges and current practice.

"Organisations that fail to understand and address them [the gaps] may not survive," Kleinert said.

Organisations could take several steps including:

• Develop a plan to address specific skills deficits

• Refresh the employment brand

• Consider the unique interests and attitudes of Millennials (Gen-Y)

• Review and update the performance management process.

Kleinert said employers' perspective on the importance of diversity was particularly confusing.

On the one hand, most company directors acknowledged the need for diversity policies and guidelines, but only 1 per cent of managers surveyed selected diversity as the top talent challenge.

Few organisations had special programmes to promote attraction, retention, or engagement of specific types of employees.

Most common were special programmes for Millennials - forecast to make up 75 per cent of the world's workforce by 2025 - but even they were used by just under a third of organisations.

Kleinert said that was a concern as Millennials reported the highest likelihood of leaving their current employer in the next 12 months (54 per cent) and the lowest levels of understanding of their career path potential with their current organisations. They also showed the lowest belief that their current position made good use of their talent and ability (31 per cent disagree) and trust in their leadership (38 per cent neutral).

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