Positions go unfilled in spite of joblessness

Last updated 05:00 14/01/2013
Blake Surfacings managing director Peter Scott, second from right, has been searching for someone to fill a position at his industrial flooring firm for six months. With him are employees, from left, Zedekiah Hunter, Joseph Scott and Star Esera. He has been unsuccessful in recruiting more staff.
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ

STUMPED: Blake Surfacings managing director Peter Scott, second from right, has been searching for someone to fill a position at his industrial flooring firm for six months. With him are employees, from left, Zedekiah Hunter, Joseph Scott and Star Esera. He has been unsuccessful in recruiting more staff.

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The number of jobs advertised in Canterbury this week would cater for only half of those on the dole. Nicole Mathewson looks at why some Christchurch people are struggling to find work.

There may have been 30 per cent more jobs for students in the past year, but some unemployed Christchurch people are failing to get a job, despite applying for dozens of positions.

And several employers have told The Press they are finding it difficult to fill unskilled and low-paid positions.

About 28,000 Cantabrians are out of work, with 3424 being paid an unemployment benefit, but there are only about 1700 jobs advertised on employment listings website Seek.

Student Job Search (SJS) spokesman Dean Jervis said jobs for students in Christchurch had jumped by 30 per cent this summer, compared with last summer, with many relating to the city's earthquake rebuild.

The jobs were normally those that "don't require a great deal of experience", but a few students still struggled to find work, he said.

They were the ones without "soft skills", such as turning up to work on time, dressing appropriately and having the ability to complete a day's work.

"Sometimes they just have no idea how to handle an interview or present themselves. People turn up in jandals to a construction site - just 101 stuff," Jervis said.

Lack of experience was the biggest stumbling block for many people, and students were encouraged to take whatever work they could get.

"The message that we're desperate to get to students is: Don't think a degree is a ticket to get into the workplace. Employers want to see you've got a work history," he said.

Security One managing director Graham Larson, who has been hiring people for more than 20 years, said about a third of all applications he received would be thrown away, especially if they came with a generic CV.

"If I bother to put my name and number on an ad, I would expect to be addressed as more than 'Dear Sir' or 'Dear Manager'," he said.

"People need to say this is who I am, this is what I can do and this is what I can do for your company - and for goodness sake, clear up your Facebook page."

Blake Surfacings owner Peter Scott said he had been trying to find someone to take on a $16.50-an-hour "unofficial apprenticeship" with his industrial flooring firm for about six months.

Two people had expressed interest, but after asking them to send copies of their CV, neither replied. The job was "semi-skilled", but all training would be provided on the job as Scott said he would prefer to hire someone "fresh" to the industry.

"It's a really good job and the guys travel the South Island, [they get] all sorts of allowances, they get really good accommodation and meals. The staff I have are great, one guy I've had with me for 16 years."

He did not know why people were not interested.

"I've thought about it a lot. I just can't understand it. I could really grow my business if I had the people," he said.

Labour Party labour issues spokeswoman Darien Fenton said filling low-skilled and low-paid jobs was "much more complex than some think".

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"Employers will tell you there's a range of responses needed," she said.

"Reducing wages for young people as the [Government] is doing is not their No 1 option. Work-readiness is, and that means we should be putting a lot more effort into helping young people understand their rights and responsibilities and getting them ready to work."

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce said Canterbury's labour market was changing rapidly because of the region's rebuild.

"There's no doubt there is a very dynamic market in Christchurch and that's continuing. The marketing is tightening. There's always a potential when things are changing quickly to have a mismatch [between employers and jobseekers]."

He said Work and Income provided opportunities for those who needed to upskill, and the Canterbury Skills and Employment Hub was set up in November to help match employers with potential employees.

About 100 employers had registered with the hub; 80 vacancies were listed, and 560 jobseekers signed up.

TIPS FOR JOB SEEKERS

Use many different channels: The more ways you use to try to find a job, the greater your chance of succeeding. Use online job vacancy sites, check local newspapers and register with recruitment agencies.

Contact employers directly and use networks to find employment as many jobs are not advertised. Develop a routine: Keep yourself motivated and focused by developing a plan and sticking to it. Set aside time each day to research employers and tailor your CV and cover letter to reflect this with each application.

It is the quality of applications that counts, not the quantity. Know yourself: Be clear on what you enjoy and the skills you bring to a job.

Make a list of your skills, and target jobs that use those skills. Be adaptable and flexible – work part-time or do volunteer work to build networks in your area.

Work on your "soft skills": Many employers say the hardest thing to find in employees is good communication skills, organisational skills, punctuality and a tidy appearance.

Visit www.careers.govt.nz for more tips.

Source: Careers NZ

- The Press

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