Skills shortage amid buoyant labour market

The labour market remains buoyant in Otago although businesses continue to be concerned about the availability of staff with required skills, Otago-Southland Employers Association chief executive  Virginia Nicholls said yesterday.

There was a skills shortage in the region, particularly in construction and  the trades. 

"There are good forward orders and companies are actively recruiting.  In Central Otago, they are finding it difficult to fill some  vacancies."

The ANZ Job Ads series, released yesterday,  showed job advertisements listed in New Zealand were "running out of puff". Otago was one of the three regions to show annual growth along with the Bay of Plenty and Taranaki.

Otago had annual growth of 20.8% and Southland remained second with 31% average growth. Mrs Nichols said businesses welcomed the announcement by the Government in December they could access skilled trades people from overseas if New Zealand workers were not available.

Recruiters filling roles were reporting a very busy December across the board, which had continued into January this year. 

"This is a change on previous years, where they experienced either a busy December or January, but were not busy for both months.  The year ahead is looking positive."

Highly skilled individuals were finding new roles, she said.

Employers were trying to retain existing staff and lift the skills of current employees.

There was concern over the work-readiness of youth and more people aged 65 or over were working.

The association was advocating for measures to address the drug issues in the domestic labour market, Mrs Nicholls said.

"The closure of Cadbury after 150 years of production in Dunedin at the end of March is a low point on an otherwise positive outlook."

Southland was also experiencing positive job growth and employers there were also finding it challenging to recruit skilled employees.  

Transport operators across Otago and Southland were experiencing good growth, she said.

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