15 May 2006

New Zealand businesses continue to be hit by skills shortage

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New Zealand employers are still finding their business plans constrained by a lack of skilled labour in the country.

With a tightening labour market, employers in the country are finding suitably skilled applicants harder to find and in some cases businesses are closing down altogether.

Nicky Lowe ran an award-winning screen printing business, 'Terrabyte', but was forced to cease trading after a shortage of suitably skilled and experienced trades people.

She told the New Zealand Herald: "People weren't turning up, they'd make mistakes, weren't committed to getting the job done and didn't want to work long hours.

"And they were demanding such a high hourly rate the profit on jobs was going down and we couldn't profit as a company because of it.

"It's just really hard to find good people."

Terrabyte closed its doors last Christmas, having employed 13 staff at its North Shore office.

Other trades have been suffering too, Steel and Tube is New Zealand's largest distributor of steel and steel products with 880 employees and is reporting that attracting the right applicants to vacancies is now becoming a long drawn-out process.

Chief executive Nick Calavrias told the New Zealand Herald that the most difficult vacancies to fill are in the sales force.

"It's more on the selling side rather than the manufacturing. But they need technical skills as well, not just straight-out selling skills."

"Whereas previously the company needed to advertise a vacancy only once, "now to get the right applicants we might have to advertise two or three times".

Latest Goverment statistics put the skills shortage at 33% for the last reported quarter ending in December, which is considerably better than the previous quarter's figures of 43%, but the lack of skilled labour is still a major concern for New Zealand business.

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