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Skills shortage deeply entrenched

6 April 2005

Skills shortage deeply entrenched

The latest survey of Auckland Chamber of Commerce members reveals evidence confirming the skills shortage has become entrenched and a major constraint holding back business growth.

For the third successive quarter more than 50% of the respondents said that it is getting harder to find the skilled staff they need.

In the September and December surveys, 53% of respondents said that finding suitable skilled staff was getting harder, while just 3% and 2% respectively said it was getting easier.

In the latest survey last month, those predicting it is getting harder to find suitable skilled staff has climbed a further point to 54% to create a new high for this question in the survey.

Back in August 2001, the Chamber first forecast a deepening skills shortage when 38% of respondents said they were finding it difficult to recruit suitable skilled staff. Since then, every survey has confirmed the trend with results in the 40’s. In December 2003, 44% of businesses reported that recruiting suitable skilled staff was getting harder. In March 2004, 42% were of this view and in the June survey, the number was up to 47%.

Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett said it was very disappointing that the level of difficulty to recruit skilled staff had continued to increase, despite the focus on this issue over the past two years. “Clearly we have not yet put in place a solution that is making it easier for businesses to find skilled staff.”

Reinforcing the increasing difficulty that businesses are having in recruiting skilled staff, the March survey records a 45% jump (from38% to 83%) in the level of difficulty in recruiting staff in the tourism and hospital sectors, a 17% increase (from 30% to 47%) in the technology-communications sectors, and an 8% increase (from 57% to 67%) in service sector.

Areas showing that it was getting less difficult to recruit skilled staff was in manufacturing and trades. In manufacturing the degree of difficulty in finding skilled staff has dropped 11% (from 64% to 55%) and in trades down 2% from 54% to 52%.

However, Mr Barnett noted that fewer respondents had answered this area of the survey, suggesting that most businesses had “given up” trying to recruit skilled trades and manufacturing staff because they knew they would not get a response.


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