The Skills Gap Situation: A closer look at the problem of talent acquisition for New Zealand companies
PwC recently released their report on the talent challenge and skills gap in New Zealand. Our country faces an interesting situation, and although we think things work differently in our little islands in the Southern Hemisphere, it turns out we’re facing a lot of the same problems that companies throughout the world are tackling.
Through this survey, we were able to find that 80% of New Zealand CEOs say the availability of skills is the biggest business threat to their organization’s growth. Companies fear that the skill gap between what is needed and what is available in the current pool of candidates in quickly widening. This leaves us with a two-fold question; First, does New Zealand have the desired skills available in it’s current ecosystem, and second how do we attract and retain this talent?
Now before I dive into answering my proposed questions, readers should know that I’m a strong believer in Talent Management being the most overlooked aspect in current business models and strategies. Although everyone likes to talk about Talent Management, experience has shown me that it’s just that – it’s just talk. I’m happy to see that the CEOs of this survey realise it’s importance but I’m also frightened as the report points out that although 90% of business leaders say they need to change their strategy for attracting and retaining talent, only two in five have actually taken steps to achieve this.
So, does New Zealand have the skills and the desired workforce we are seeking?
As New Zealand faces an economy of growing business everyone likes to ask the pessimistic questions of where we will find these workers. It’s a known fact that many of New Zealand graduates move overseas to look for work. Figures released by Statistics New Zealand show the number of Kiwis aged 20-24 departing permanently for Australia has leapt 43 per cent. But it’s not just recent graduates moving, this trend is prevalent for professionals from all age groups. This leads me to the next question.
If we have the skilled workers, how do we attract and retain them?
As a recruiter, we come across a large amount of candidates with a diversity of talents. They’re applying to jobs but can’t seem to make their CV stand out.
The trending issue I see with talent acquisition is that companies are seeking a candidate who has already done the job before. This is a backwards way of hiring. It’s uncommon that candidates are seeking a replica of their previous job. They obviously are not doing that job any longer for a reason. In recruiting, people focus too much of the experience as opposed to the desired skills set.
Also, our formal way of recruiting has now been outdated. Recruiting in 2014 requires companies to go a step further than just posting an opening on their website or online job boards. Unique and specialized marketing campaigns must be developed for each position. The tactics that proved successful for one company or position may not work for the next.
The problem doesn’t end at just attracting the talent but in also retaining them. As our workforce is starting to be filled by a younger generation, it’s important to understand what they are looking for. As opposed to previous generations seeking a retirement plan and stability, we are now being asked about company culture and future opportunities. What people expect out of a job is changing and unless you can meet those demands it’s clear that the chance to retain talent is diminishing.
Now, before I get off my soapbox I think it’s important to keep a few things in mind before we panic at the idea of a skills gap.
First, we have the talent or at least more than we think. Companies just need to be better at attracting it. And second, we need to stop looking at an employees work background and start focusing on their skills set.
Investing and developing in your employees will be the difference between the companies with a gap and the ones without.