Shay Peters, New Zealand director for Robert Walters, said employers should be actively recruiting expats back into the local market – if they don’t, business growth could easily suffer.
Peters’ comments come after the recruitment firm released the results of its annual Salary Survey which collects insights from both employers and employees across the country.
“Our survey shows that employees are still very much in the driver’s seat with more than 80 per cent feeling confident of plentiful job opportunities this year driven by a thriving economy and large government project roll-outs,” said Peters.
“The feedback from employers however, not only from the survey but also from our day-to-day engagement with them, is that there is an increasing lack of highly skilled candidates,” he continued.
“This coupled with the government indicating a tightening of the immigration policy poses a real concern for businesses.”
Despite the hardening market, Peters says it is possible for employers to get the talent they need if they tailor their recruitment strategies to an overseas audience.
“Kiwi companies are going to have to really tailor their pitch to entice expats back here,” he said. “They’ll have to upsell the lifestyle balance that New Zealand offers and be prepared to offer salaries in line with those in the UK, US and Asia.”
Political uncertainty around the world could also be of some benefit to New Zealand employers with Peters’ saying the nation now looks like a safe haven more than ever before.
“The fallout from Brexit, combined with the perceived political instability in the United States, is making New Zealand an increasingly attractive option for many Kiwi expats,” he said. “This trend will assist in meeting the high demand for skilled professionals in New Zealand.”
With no end in sight for the talent shortage, Peters says employers should prepare to pay higher wages over the year ahead or offer incredibly attractive benefits.
“In most professions, salaries went up in 2017, and we expect to see increases again in 2018. Those professionals with skills in particularly high demand will receive substantial increases,” he said.
“Extra benefits such as flexible working conditions, and health and wellbeing programmes need to be considered to retain the best employees,” he added.
The head of a top recruitment firm has urged Kiwi companies to look further afield when considering candidates, saying New Zealand doesn’t have enough highly-skilled staff to meet everyone’s needs.