Kiwi businesses commit to 'no qualifications required' hiring

Want a skilled position? This isn't the only route, businesses say.
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Want a skilled position? This isn't the only route, businesses say.

A shortage of skilled workers and a rapidly changing employment environment has prompted New Zealand businesses to declare that they are willing to recruit people with no formal qualifications.

More than 100 companies have so far signed an open letter saying that tertiary qualifications are not required for a range of skilled roles in their workplaces.

Instead, they say they are willing to focus on assessing the skills, attitudes, motivation and adaptability of candidates.

The businesses include Xero, ASB, Fonterra, Microsoft and Vector.

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The idea for the letter came from the Strategic Insights Panel, sponsored by ASB and KPMG, which brings together 30 business leaders who have a goal to help double GDP per capita growth from 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent by 2021.

Frances Valintine, who co-led the panel's talent initiative, said the aim was to grow the number of business signatories to 1000.

"Businesses across New Zealand are struggling to find talented employees that can bring enthusiasm, natural talent, passion and potential to their companies as qualifications do not always reflect the true capability of applicants," Valintine said.

"Solving the talent crisis requires bold new ways to match people, capability and jobs and I believe removing the fixed requirement for a formal qualification is a great first step."

Sometimes the demand for "contemporary knowledge" was such that businesses could not afford to wait while a candidate completed a degree, she said.

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In many cases, the only formal qualification options were not yet available in New Zealand. "We've got one [role advertised] at the moment for a block chain adviser. But there is no formal programme in blockchain in New Zealand."

She said many businesses were already giving priority to other attributes, such as the ability to collaborate with others or communicate well, but were still advertising the need for a formal qualification when they recruited. 

More people were changing careers later life, sometimes due to increasing digitisation or automation of their industries, she said.

The idea that they would all go back to university was not realistic. "Most don't have three years."

Instead, they could bring transferable skills and combine that with on-the-job training.

Rod Snodgrass, director of the Exponential Agency, said a three-year tertiary degree was still good for many things but not the answer for everything.

He said it was likely to become more of an issue.

When he was working at Spark, there were secondary students coming in to do software development after school, he said. "They had the right skills."

Trade Me is supporting the initiative with a new category of jobs that require no qualifications. To be listed, they must be skilled positions.

So far, roles listed include developers, business development managers and marketing positions. Spokeswoman Anna Miles said the jobs were "mid-to-high tier" in salary terms. "There are a lot of unfilled positions around NEw Zealand, [employers'] shouldn't narrow their focus unnecessarily."

 - Stuff

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