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NZ faces an energy skills crisis

Employers in New Zealand’s energy industry are recruiting from overseas or outside the industry in order to overcome the domestic skills shortage, says recruiting experts Hays.

According to the recruiter the shortage of energy professionals is evident across New Zealand, but is most acute in rural regions where there is less of a skills base and where overseas candidates are often unwilling to move.

“Employers are not increasing the overall size of their existing workforce, but the ongoing skills shortage means that they are constantly recruiting to replace staff who leave for work in other locations or who retire,” says Jason Walker, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand.

“A number of New Zealander's have returned home from Australia where energy jobs are not as prevalent, and this has helped to a point, but employers still face a skills shortage when they recruit.

“As a result, they are now considering hiring from overseas markets, such as the Philippines, and employing mechanical and electrical tradespeople from outside the energy industry who can be trained to become Line Mechanics and Power Technicians.”

According to Hays, the five skills in greatest demand but shortest supply in New Zealand’s energy sector are:

1. Glove and Barrier Line Mechanics – “Given the length of time required to qualify as a Glove and Barrier Line Mechanic, which could be up to 10 years to be fully competent, and the cost of the training for employers, there is a massive shortfall of these candidates in New Zealand,” says Jason. “Yet their skills are highly sought after both at home and abroad.”

2. Substation Design Engineers – “Very few Electrical Engineers go on to specialise as Substation Design Engineers. Consequently there is a shortage of suitable candidates. Each region of New Zealand has a need for these Engineers but the availability of relevant candidates, particularly outside the main cities, is very low.”

3. Power Technicians – “Few Electricians specialise as Power Technicians. There are other opportunities available in the construction industry and it can take up to five years post-trade qualification to qualify as a Power Technician. There are also limited opportunities to train directly on local substations and lines networks.”

4. Distribution Line Mechanics – “The lines industry is currently buoyant and there is an ongoing demand for New Zealand qualified Line Mechanics. The unique local market demands good local network knowledge, but most candidates lack such experience.”

5. Substation Project Managers – “A higher than normal programme of new build and substation refurbishments around New Zealand has created demand for experienced Project Managers. Normally companies are interested only in candidates with five or more years of experience in delivering large-scale substations, but there is a lack of candidates in this area.”

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


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