Job ads record a hot end to summer
The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends demonstrated a further lift in job ads across New Zealand.

Advertising on SEEK rose 7.9% year-on-year last month and salaries also continued to climb in seasonably adjusted terms with Auckland leading the charge and Wellington keeping pace.

Adam Shapley, Managing Director for Hays New Zealand, says that while the major centres are showing a continued appetite for talent, smaller regions are demonstrating an even greater demand for candidates.

“There is a population growth in the North Island as many people have been priced out of the major centres and this has created opportunities for business,” says Shapely. “In the South Island, demand is largely driven by economic growth in places like Queenstown, Wanaka and Dunedin. In Dunedin, the growth is coming from education and healthcare projects. In Queenstown and Wanaka, it tends to be tourism-related. There is also a shortage of tourism accommodation and so the construction industry has been extremely busy in these areas.”

Hot demand for tech talent

Most New Zealand industries recorded a year-on-year lift in job ads last month. Those that recorded the greatest year-on-year growth include Consulting & Strategy, Government & Defence and Information & Communication Technology (ICT).

Shapley says demand for ICT professionals remains high, particularly in the case of software developers. He notes that many employers are required to think outside the square to attract talent.

“There are a lot of organisations, particularly in the government sector, that are still managing with older technology,” he says. “We’re seeing older IT professionals that have kept their skillset in legacy technology now being attracted back to the workplace in their late 60s for contract work,” he says. “They are often looking for flexible conditions, so employers should keep this in mind.”

Demand for office support

The Administration & Office support industry recorded a 2.9% year-on-year lift and demand for candidates remains high relative to the past five years. SEEK’s data also shows an upward trend for the industry over the past four months.

Owen Jones, a consultant specialising in business support in the Wellington branch of recruitment firm Madison, says automation has had, and will continue to have, an impact on the way we work. However, in terms of the level of recruitment activity across the sector, increased automation has had little impact in recent years.

“Until now it has predominantly affected low-level roles,” he says. “For more experienced roles such as executive assistants, it has caused little-to-no disruption. Organisational restructures have been reasonably common in Wellington and remains one of the biggest disruptions on administrators.”

Salaries ready to rise?

A number of industries have recorded a lift in average advertised salaries in recent months. Last month, the stand-out sectors included ICT and Accounting and the regions to record the highest salary growth were Auckland, Canterbury, Southland, Tasman and Wellington

However, Shapely says momentum remains quite slow across the majority of sectors.

“Salaries are lifting in industries such as ICT and Construction, however, across the board, they are not increasing to a level we would expect based on the shortage of skills.”

Attracting and retaining talent

A competitive salary is vital in any employment market, however Jones says employers must also offer genuine flexibility if they wish to attract and retain the best talent.

“Whether it’s opportunities to work from home or to work flexible hours, an ever-increasing number of candidates are not only looking for this, but expecting it,” he says.

Jones adds that employers may also wish to consider additional benefits, such as increasing annual leave entitlement and providing ongoing training. “This highlights an organisation’s desire to retain, develop and progress employees,” he says.

Shapely stresses the importance of employer value propositions. “ICT candidates, for example, have a lot of choice in the market right now so it’s essential that employers are very clear about their value proposition,” he says. “It’s important to be transparent about your values and what you are trying to achieve.”

Smart employers should also develop long-term retention strategies in addition to refining their recruitment processes, says Shapley.

“Organisations are investing more in recruitment than in training because of the current pressure for staff,” says Shapley. “They are looking at shorter-term fixes to the skills shortage.”