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Three steps to close New Zealand’s skills gap

Three steps to close New Zealand’s skills gap and reduce youth unemployment

Closer ties between business and government, fiscal incentives and input from business on university courses are three suggestions to close the skills gap and reduce youth unemployment, according to recruiting experts Hays.

With New Zealand’s economic growth exceeding three per cent, skills shortages have already led to significant wage pressure in high skill industries such as technology, residential construction and engineering, says Hays.

Skill shortages in these areas were highlighted in the Hays Global Skills Index, published in 2013, that showed New Zealand had the highest score possible (10) for the rate at which wages in high skill industries are rising compared to wages in low skill industries. This compared with 8.0 in Australia and 5.8 in the UK.

Add New Zealand’s relatively low score for education flexibility (3.8) and it is clear that New Zealand is not matching the skills of graduates with the skills needed in the economy.

“Due to the short supply of the right skills we are now seeing too many skilled jobs going unfilled,” said Jason Walker, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand.

“This significantly impacts a company’s ability to grow and constrains New Zealand’s economic prospects at a time when we need to be encouraging a sustained recovery.

“As it’s an election year, we’re expecting to see the political parties put forward policies that address these important issues. This should be a high priority as both the long-term unemployment rate and youth unemployment rate remain high, despite some recent reductions.

“Longer-term, the Government needs to work with the private sector to rebalance the education system to produce greater numbers of the skilled individuals that our industries need,” says Jason.

According to Hays, business and government need to work together in developing schemes and programs to increase the supply of skilled workers. Governments must demonstrate real financial and political commitment to improving skills and businesses need to develop and implement tailored policies for their youngest staff.

Hays suggests the following to help the Government close the skills gap and reduce youth unemployment:

Develop closer ties with business to have clarity on the skills that are required.

Offer fiscal incentives to employers to enable them to employ and train staff in areas where there are skills shortages.

Facilitate forums and closer links between businesses and universities to establish appropriate courses that address the skills shortages. Universities could also be provided with incentives to offer these courses. In turn they can provide bursaries and reduced fees to students who undertake study in areas where there are ongoing and acute skills shortages.

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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