News & Blog

05 January

Auckland's Labour Shortage: The Tip of the Iceberg

It’s not news that there is an ongoing shortage of skilled labour to support major infrastructure projects and housing developments in the Auckland region.
While I applaud the efforts of those within the industry to actually do something about what has been a systemic long-term issue, I don’t think a local marketing campaign to tempt workers to Auckland will solve the problem.* The skills shortage we are seeing now is the tip of the iceberg and it will only get worse. Location is the least of our worries.

The Problem

The first problem is that this campaign assumes kiwis who are already skilled, are willing and able to come up to Auckland at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately it doesn’t work this way. Whilst it’s logical that Auckland businesses will have a crack at attracting the small pool of local talent to the ‘big smoke’, the bigger picture is that there just aren’t enough locals with necessary skills. In our opinion, this shortage of 4000 workers as explained in the NZ Herald article* is the tip of the iceberg and the campaign is too little, too late to be effective.

The Solution

What is needed is a broader multi-pronged advertising strategy: the first of which is an urgent international focus. As the proactive businesses who are mentioned in this article will know, attracting foreign workers is about more than a few adverts on job board in a few offshore locations. It requires a professional recruitment advertising strategy; implemented by those with experience in reaching skilled people and engaging them in a discussion about opportunities. Planning for international recruitment needs to start at minimum 3 months before legs are needed on the ground: it’s not an overnight process.

A coordinated effort (like the #BuildAKL campaign but with focus on a wider talent pool), would be arguably better for the country overall that big corporates who have the resources, fighting it out on their own.

Secondly, to fill our talent pipeline for the future there should be immediate focus on training and apprenticeships that attract people to the construction industry. If we don’t, we’ll still be having this discussion in 10 years’ time. The size and depth of the industry is vast, with opportunities from labouring roles and senior management positions, which mean potential candidates, need to be aware of the opportunities that are available to them. To me, this presents the construction industry with some great opportunities for ongoing digital campaigns and use of social media.

Looking to successful industries

Our third recommendation is that major players in the construction industry seriously consider their ongoing talent attraction strategies.
In other industries such as healthcare, Big Splash has helped businesses successfully create strong and distinct brand identities that position them as an employer of choice. These brands have spoken to things such as lifestyle or career progression and influence candidates to want to work for them. There are instances where young people have been inspired enough by the thought of working for a particular organisation, that they have picked their career path and training to suit. That’s the mark of a great employer brand!

Like most marketing, successful employer branding requires an understanding of who your target market is, messaging that resonates and a commitment to ongoing engagement. Recruitment advertising specialists can help with that, and are increasingly being engaged by companies of all sizes to ensure that they are well positioned in the battle for global talent.

In summary, some folks in the recruitment industry may believe they can simply post an ad in New Zealand and get what they need. Big Splash has been in the recruitment advertising space since 2002, and in our experience with over 950 organisations, we beg to differ. With a forecast 32,000 construction vacancies coming up as reported in the article, I wouldn’t be recommending any of my clients stake the future of their workforce on that strategy.

We live in an informed and connected world; a world where the labour market is increasingly flexible and global. Medium to long term planning is necessary to ensure a healthy talent pool and working together is going to be the best thing for the construction industry to ensure it continues to flourish.

-Sharon Davies
Founding Director of Big Splash

AU www.bigsplashworldwide.com
NZ: www.bigsplash.co.nz

* (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11766509)
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