Skill shortages make hiring hard work

JAMIE SMALL AND MICHAEL FOREMAN
Last updated 09:59 19/06/2014

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Online job ad numbers are shooting up as businesses compete for a limited pool of skilled workers.

New figures from the Seek.co.nz recruitment website show a surge in job opportunities across the country.

The number of job advertisements posted on Seek last month was 17.3 per cent higher than in the same month last year. More than 26,000 jobs were posted on the site in May, an increase of 2.9 per cent on the previous month, Seek said.

"The rise in the number of applications received for each job from April to May is a strong indicator of the continued confidence in the labour market," said Seek general manager Janet Faulding.

"Skilled workers are currently on the move, so now is a great time for employers to look for new talent."

Jason Walker, managing director of recruitment company Hays New Zealand, said Hamilton's manufacturing sector is one of the groups struggling to find skilled workers.

"A number of companies already are having quite significant skill shortages," he said.

"The Auckland market since Christmas has just taken off and that's always a concern for the regions."

He said Waikato competes with Auckland for workers, and the construction market is driving an increase in manufacturing.

"That's just a clear sign that there isn't enough talent available."

Walker said employers are having to increase incentives to keep workers on board, but many fall short of the mark, with three-quarters of New Zealanders receiving less than a 3 per cent pay rise last year.

"There are employers out there who will offer increased salaries."

He said workers are increasingly aware that their skills would be welcome elsewhere, and if employers don't react, they will leave.

"The main reason is that they disengage themselves and they feel unloved."

But it isn't all about the money, and Walker said increasing workers' responsibilities and non-monetary incentives can be the difference between whether they stay or go. Company culture, training and development are other important concerns.

"They always say that salary isn't the main thing, but it is a component."

Kevin Chubb, managing director of Hamilton engineering company Tidd Ross Todd (TRT), said it is particularly difficult to find qualified diesel mechanics.

"We have advertised several times this year and the responses have been largely disappointing, however we have employed some staff as a result of the advertising in Seek and on Trade Me."

He said the company is not currently seeking workers in the manufacturing departments, due to the reduced demand from Australia. However, he is aware of previous skill shortages in composites, paint, steel fabrication and steel processing.

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TRT is training 16 of its own apprentices, six of whom are diesel mechanics.

Across the country, the number of construction job ads posted on Seek was up 46 per cent compared with May last year.

Farming job ads were up 43 per cent, trades and services jobs rose 33 per cent, and design and architecture job ads were up 26 per cent.

- Waikato Times

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