How employers can overcome talent shortage

Employers need to become less fussy when it comes to recruiting in some fields.

Employers need to re-evaluate how they fill certain positions if they are to continue to recruit skilled staff.

A survey of more than 650 employers by recruitment firm Manpower shows 48% of New Zealand companies contacted are experiencing difficulty filling key positions.

The jobs hardest to fill are engineers, sales reps and skilled trades.

Managing director Lincoln Crawley says to get the right people, employers need to adjust their criteria for prospective employees.

He says one thing they can do is look for a "teachable fit", which essentially involves settling for less-skilled staff.

"The approach is to identify the sort of skills which are actually teachable within a relatively short space of time, and in an economic way."

Mr Crawley says when looking at trades, the idea is to separate the work that needs to be done by highly-skilled tradespeople and to supplement that by using people who can be quickly trained.

For example, if an employer was looking for 10 tradespeople, they could employ four who were very highly skilled and the rest less skilled. 

He says the approach will certainly result in more training on the part of employers but will prove cost-effective in the long term.

The survey also showed New Zealand employers are becoming complacent about not being able to find skilled staff.

Just 8% of employers feel the talent shortage is having a high impact, compared to 23% in 2011.

Mr Crawley says employers have been beating their heads against a wall with little success.

"They've given up, basically."

He says while employers don't think it is a big deal now, it will be in the future.

Employers should also consider hiring flexible workers and recruit from underemployed groups such as older workers. 

The 'teachable fit' idea has found support among NBR ONLINE readers, with one commenting: "I am starting an initiative in our firm to grow our own good people by taking on school leavers and training them."

Another says employers should "take some time and train a few people, and stop requiring stupid qualifications that are of marginal use compared to on premises training."  

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