In the 2017 EMA Employers Survey the tight labour market is the number one headache for employers, with overall business confidence softening compared with a year ago.
“The confident mood of a year ago has eased a little on account of the elections, but the fundamentals are still good. This is confirmed by the increasing difficulties in filling vacancies for skilled staff,” says Mr Campbell, CEO, EMA.
In the annual survey the most notable change is the overall outlook on business conditions. Those expecting conditions to improve has dropped from 47% to 24% in the past year and those expecting conditions to worsen has increased from 4% to 28% over the same period. Those expecting conditions to stay the same has remained relatively steady at 48% (compared with 47% in 2016).
This carried through to respondents’ outlook for their own business, with 56% expecting their business to grow in the next year (compared with 68% in 2016), 37% expecting to their business to stay the same (compared with 27% in 2016) and 7% expecting their business conditions to decrease (compared with 4% in 2016).
The tight labour market remains a key issue for employers. The survey looked at a range of employment matters, such as ability to recruit staff with the required skills, immigration and work readiness of youth all of which remain foremost in employers’ minds for attracting, finding and employing the staff they want.
The majority of employers (61%) are finding it difficult or very difficult to recruit for positions in general. This is an increase of 8% compared with the same time a year ago. While 72% say it is difficult or very difficult to recruit skilled staff, which is the same as a year ago.
Specifically, professionals and technicians were the two main categories employers had the most difficulty recruiting in. Machinery operators are the third category that is most difficult to recruit in, having risen from 13% in 2015 to 20% in 2017.
This was backed up by the majority of respondents (65%) saying there is currently, or there soon will be, a skills shortage in their sector.
Employers are addressing their skills needs in several ways. A large number (51%) prefer to retrain existing staff on the job, employing staff with required experience (50%) and up-skilling current employees (49%). There has been an increase in the number of employers who seek skilled migrants from 15% in 2015 to 23% in 2017.
“We look forward to seeing the public policy response from the new Government in regards to these matters,” says Mr Campbell.
The survey was conducted in early-November 2017 and went to EMA members. Respondents were from a cross-section of businesses across the EMA region, from Taupo northwards.