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Staff shortages reinforce govt. focus on skills

26 February 2004 Media Statement

Staff shortages reinforce government’s focus on skills

The continued difficulty employers face in recruiting staff emphasises the government’s focus on skills development, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

The Department of Labour’s Skills in the Labour Market report was published today. It records that both skilled and unskilled workers are in high demand. A net half of firms had more difficulty finding skilled staff in the December 2003 quarter, and more than a net quarter of firms had more difficulty finding unskilled staff. One fifth of employers said a shortage of workers was the main constraint on their firm expanding.

Steve Maharey said the results are the consequence of the historically low unemployment and reinforce the efforts being made to get the unemployed into work and to boost participation in industry training.

“There are 176,000 more people in work since the Labour-led government was elected and employers are continuing to report difficulty finding new staff to expand their businesses. This reinforces the government’s focus on education, training and skilled migration as springboards for economic growth and social development.

“Focuses for our work 2004 include:
- further increases in the Modern Apprenticeships and industry training programmes. Funding was provided in the last budget to boost the number of workers in on-the-job training by 50,000 to 150,000 by 2005;
- better partnerships between Work and Income and understaffed industries so we can identify their skills needs and train job seekers to meet them;
- attracting skilled migrants who meet employers’ needs; and
- improving the information that is available about the labour market so that young people, older workers wanting a career change and those advising them make good choices about the kinds of skills being sought by employers.

“Employment projections point to further job growth this year, so it’s likely that there will continue to be a shortage of skilled staff in some industries. The government will continue to increase its investment in giving people the right skills to take up these opportunities,” Steve Maharey said.

The Skills in the Labour Market report is available online at

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