There is a disconnect between the reported optimism of New Zealand businesses and their readiness to turn positivity into action, according to BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander.
At a breakfast briefing held in Auckland recently, Alexander discussed New Zealand’s prospects for growth in an uncertain world.
He shared insightful commentary on what lies ahead for the New Zealand economy with a focus on the labour market driven by overseas migration and the subsequent skills shortage.
Alexander predicts a positive economic outlook with the New Zealand dollar poised to remain strong in relation to the rest of the world and he expects economic growth to rise from 1.7% to 2 – 2.5% year-on-year over the next two years.
“New Zealand has a productive business base from which we, as a nation, accrue the most financial benefit,” said Alexander. “Our export market is not built simply around processing or manufacturing, but the availability and production of key commodities such as milk powder, wine and meat for export.
“Furthermore, New Zealand is a strong investment ‘brand’ with a good reputation which creates a positive driver for export growth.”
Because of the increased optimism, Alexander challenged New Zealand employers to look closely at their plans for business growth and their recruitment strategies to help drive that growth. In particular, how they might attract talent during an inevitable skills shortage.
“The current skills-short market means companies will be increasingly looking at offshore recruitment options to plug the labour gaps,”said Alexander, challenging the audience: “How will you be hiring in six months time?”
The commentary backed up what Robert Half is seeing on the ground: businesses are positive about growth but have been slow to react to what’s happening in the market and are cautious about hiring the skilled workforce needed to manage that growth.
Robert Half director, Andrew Brushfield, says it’s important for New Zealand companies to focus on their recruitment process now as it’s currently taking four to eight weeks to fill a staff-level position, and up to six months for a senior position.
“Hiring managers should think ahead about securing the next talent pool and ensure they have the correct recruitment strategies in place to manage business growth over the coming months,” he advises. “You won’t find the same skilled candidates looking for jobs that were available years ago. They’ve now been absorbed back into the market or have moved overseas.”
“Businesses must also understand that good quality candidates with the right skill sets won’t be available for long. Multiple job offers are back. Don’t waste time – work with a recruiter that has access to candidates internationally as well as at home and move quickly to secure top talent.”
Likewise, Brushfield urges companies to ensure they’re looking after their existing ‘rock star’ employees. “Workers with knowledge of the company and the right skill sets are increasingly valuable to a business, so the focus on retention is more important than ever,” he says.
While there are no expectations for an economic boom, the key out take of the session was that New Zealand continues to move out of recession and the knock-on effect will be positive for those businesses that are prepared to take positive action for growth.