Why can’t Kiwi businesses find the talent they need?

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recruitment.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 218px; margin: 5px; float: left;" />New research from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) suggests that businesses in New Zealand can avoid skills shortages if they plan well ahead.

“We have found that firms who anticipate their future skills needs and begin the HR process early were much more likely to have the skills they needed, when they needed them,” Nuran Çinlar, head of science, skills and innovation research at MBIE, said.

This is one finding in the two reports, just released by MBIE, others include:


  • Recruitment difficulties are linked with higher performing firms, such as businesses that pay high wages, export or undertake research and development. This suggests that recruitment difficulties are not being driven by businesses that simply can’t pay the market wage for the skills they need.
  • Skills shortages are often seen as a sign of growing economy, but the new research suggests that many businesses face recruitment difficulties in good times and bad, with reported recruitment difficulties persisting in to the recessionary period after the global financial crisis.

The problem's ‘higher performing firms’ may be linked to their unwillingness to compromise on talent, according to Jonathan Rice, managing director of Rice Consulting. “I know there are more job seekers on the market, but it hasn’t really changed the amount of good quality talent on the market…and that’s probably why they would be the ones saying it’s harder to find talent,” Rice said.

Part of the issue, Rice agreed, is the fact that young people are still training in fields where there isn’t high demand. “I think there’s a bit of that, I think there’s probably still too many people training to be accountants and lawyers, and not enough people training to be civil engineers and software engineers,” Rice said.

The onus is on job seekers, as well as students, to make the right education and career decisions, but also on parents to encourage them. “Parents of those future students…need to be more aware that it’s not about being able to hold your head high down at the tennis club saying that your son or daughter is doing a BComm at Otago or a law degree…you can be  just as proud by saying that your son or daughter is doing a more vocational computer science type degree at AUT,” Rice said.

However, one other problem that Rice identified is businesses emphasis on ‘culture fit’ and a concomitant inability to exploit the talent that is already on the New Zealand market. “There’s some quality talent within the New Zealand market right now that is working in petrol stations and Subway because they don’t necessarily fit the culture in a New Zealand business, and I think there’s some of the answer to the talent shortage there – not all of it – but there’s some real quality out there that New Zealand businesses need to open their minds to.”

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