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Auckland Skills Shortage Getting To Crisis Levels

Auckland Skills Shortage “Getting To Crisis Levels”

“Auckland’s skills shortage is in grave danger of becoming an entrenched barrier against the region’s aspiration to lift living standards and lock in a sustainable high performing economy.”

Michael Barnett, Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive, was commenting on the finding of a Chamber survey of 600 Auckland businesses conducted this week.

“While the survey found that optimism overall is up - Auckland is fizzing - it is a huge worry that the survey confirmed a worsening situation for businesses seeking to recruit suitable staff,” said Mr Barnett.

The difficulty businesses are experiencing in finding the staff with skills they want is up to 44%, an increase of 5% on last September’s survey, which in turn was up 3% from 36% on the March survey.

“If this is not bad enough, it is in the survey detail that alarm bells should be starting to ring,” he warned.

For example, the engine room of the economic benefits of the America’s Cup defence and related tourism, is Auckland’s tourism and hospitality sector. This sector is reporting a massive 38% increase in difficulty finding suitable staff compared to last September’s survey.

In September 41% of businesses in tourism and hospitality indicated difficulty finding key staff, against 79% in the survey done this week.

Other sectors reporting increased difficulty finding key staff include: Wholesale/ distributor - 54% experiencing difficulty finding suitable staff, up 8% (from 46%) since September; Technology/communications - also up 8%, with 30% of respondents now saying they are experiencing difficulty recruiting suitable staff; and, Professional services - 39%, up 4% from 35% last September.

“All these areas are at the heart of Auckland’s economy.

“If Government has pretensions of creating a knowledge-based economy and getting sustainable growth above 4% a year, it is very apparent that they have a lot of work ahead.”

Meanwhile Mr Barnett said businesses should also take note from these findings. “Businesses wanting to grow need to be foreshadowing their business plans for 2003 with investment in training programmes, making use of key recruitment networks, including offshore and the Chamber of Commerce NewKiwis scheme.”

“The warnings about the difficulty of finding suitable skilled staff have been a feature of the survey for the last 2-3 years. Over that time frame Government has held numerous knowledge wave and economic summits. The time for talk about a growth strategy should be over, and the emphasis should now be on its implementation. Clearly, building a sustainable growth-led economy will be hampered until the issues around supply of skilled staff are addressed, concluded Mr Barnett.

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