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Skills shortages feature in manufacturers survey

Media Release 29the February, 2000

Skills shortages feature in latest manufacturers survey

Auckland's manufacturers are finding skilled staff increasingly difficult to recruit. The latest Survey of Business Conditions by the Employers and Manufacturers Association indicated 45 per cent of respondents were experiencing this constraint, up from 33 per cent a month earlier.

"Technically skilled people, management and professional staff are all apparently becoming more scarce," said Bruce Goldsworthy, director of the EMA's Manufacturing Division, "though the pressure has come off finding unskilled people."

"The number of companies finding skills hard to come by correlates with an increase in capacity utilisation of plant and equipment. In the December survey 33 per cent said they were running at full capacity; for January the figure went up to 43 per cent.

"Conversely fewer firms are now expecting to raise their prices than was the case last month. A reason for this could be the fact that higher throughput can result in lower unit costs.

"A high number again this month, 63 per cent, are concerned about the costs of raw materials, a figure which ties into a growing concern about the exchange rate. In our last survey 17 per cent were concerned about the dollar compared to 30 per cent this month; we think anxiety about the volatility of the exchange rate accounts for a large part of this change.

"For the first time some respondents have also registered ACC as a factor adding to the reasons why they may have to increase prices.

"Investment intentions reflect both demand and the shortage of skilled staff with 77 per cent prepared to invest in training and 65 per cent in new equipment, but interest in investing in new building has fallen off.

"Our sales figures are in sharp contrast to those released last week by our southern sister organisation in Christchurch from a very similar survey. For the month of December Canterbury manufacturers reported a 19 per cent increase in domestic sales over the same month the previous year, and just a four per cent lift for exports. Manufacturers in the north registered an opposing trend with a large rise in export sales, and a much smaller increase in domestic turnover."

Further comment: Bruce Goldsworthy tel 09 367 0913 (bus) 09 522 2723 (pte)


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