A Changing Landscape: Recruitment Challenges Following the Canterbury Earthquakes
- A Changing Landscape: Recruitment Challenges Following the Canterbury Earthquakes [PDF, 39 pages, 695kb]
Evidence from the Canterbury Employers Survey
This is the second report from the Canterbury Employers Survey that was run by the Department of Labour in October 2011. It focuses on employers’ perceptions of recruitment and skills issues and looks at how they have responded to the initial challenges of recruitment following the earthquakes.
Survey results showed that in the year to September 2011, of those employers that tried to hire staff, between a third and half said that the earthquakes had made it more difficult. These difficulties often related to employers finding that as businesses began to recover from the earthquakes, fewer people were available to fill a gradually increasing number of jobs. As the rebuild and restoration work in the region gathers pace, more employers are likely to face the same difficulties already being experienced by those who have begun to recruit.
Who is recruiting and who isn’t?
Around half of firms in greater Christchurch recruited staff during the year to September 2011. The construction industry had the highest proportion of employers recruiting. Recruitment rates appear to be similar to those before the earthquakes for those firms that survived. Over two thirds of firms intending to expand in the coming year had already been recruiting after the first earthquake in September 2010.
Who is having difficulty recruiting staff?
Overall 43.8% of firms that tried to recruit in the year to September 2011 (or 23.6% of all firms) experienced difficulties because of the earthquakes. The construction and primary, transport and utilities industries had the highest proportion of employers that found vacancies hard to fill. Difficulties recruiting new workers were also reported across a range of other industries experiencing different economic conditions, and among firms facing different impacts from the earthquakes. Across all firms, those facing recruitment difficulties were also more likely to face difficulties retaining existing staff.
Why is recruitment more difficult?
The two most common reasons employers gave, as to why recruitment was harder since the earthquakes, were: workers leaving Christchurch (31.0% of employers) and workers less likely to move to Christchurch (22.4%). People leaving Christchurch was reported by lower-skilled service industries, such as hospitality and retail trade, whereas the problem of attraction affected the higher-skilled professional, scientific and technical services industry. This suggests that for many employers the cause of their recruitment difficulties was due to the disruption to the Canterbury labour market caused by the earthquakes. Few employers said that earthquake disruption to their workplace was making recruitment harder. Employers in construction reported that recruitment was more difficult due to other factors such as competition from other firms likely to be involved in the rebuild.
What types of skills are hard to find?
Four out of five firms reported specific skills were not hard to find since the earthquakes. Trades’ skills were the most widely reported skills in shortage followed by professional and technical skills. Construction was the industry most likely to report skills shortages and most likely to report trades’ skill shortages.
How well are skill needs being met through training?
The majority of the firms reporting skills shortages were confident, at the time of the survey in September 2011, they could respond by training the staff they need. Over half of firms that were already providing training or intending to provide training had used external training providers.
Meeting skill needs through migration
A relatively low share of employers (12.8%) said they intended to recruit overseas migrants. Large firms were more likely to be planning to recruit migrants than small firms. Two-thirds of employers who intended to recruit from overseas had not recruited from overseas before.
The construction industry
The construction industry had one of the highest proportions of recruiting firms saying the earthquakes had made recruitment harder (54.7%) and the industry with the highest proportion of firms saying it is difficult to retain staff (35.0%). It is also the industry where specific skills issues (mainly trades related) are most apparent, with 36.0% of employers reporting they have specific skills in shortage. Also, when asked, in September 2011, why they are having difficulties recruiting staff, construction firms were far less likely to report a general concern about people leaving or not entering the city. Instead, they were more likely to identify competition from other firms and to report the need to hire workers with specific skills. Shortages of trades’ skills were also reported in other industries with growth prospects, such as manufacturing, which may heighten the demand pressures for trades’ workers as the rebuild gets underway.
Future recruitment challenges in Canterbury
Since the survey was run in September 2011, a number of changes have occurred in the region. In particular, the timing of the rebuild has been pushed back by the further tremors around Christmas 2011. The size of the Canterbury region’s working age population has fallen, as shown in the December quarter Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS), while there has been continuing growth in job vacancies. This means that it is likely that the recruitment challenges identified in this report are likely to still exist. Indeed they may have worsened.
Issues around labour supply and demand, including ways to retain and attract employees will be addressed as part of the Economic Recovery Programme that CERA is developing. The Canterbury Employment and Skills Board is developing a supporting labour market strategy that will include a series of projects to help drive the labour market’s contribution to the recovery.
Table 1 shows the key findings from the survey about recruitment, retention and skills difficulties due to the earthquakes over the year to September 2011.
Table 1. Percentage of workplaces reporting Recruitment, Retention and Skills difficulties due to the earthquakes
|Industry||Tried to recruit||Had difficulty recruiting||Had difficulty retaining staff||Difficulty finding the right skills|
|Primary, Transport, Utilities||55.6%||54.0%||27.3%||23.6%|
|Professional, Scientific and Technical Services||39.8%||49.0%||29.3%||24.0%|
|Public, Health, Education||56.0%||35.7%||29.8%||16.8%|
Source: Canterbury Employers Survey
 This column shows the number of workplaces that had difficulty recruiting as a proportion of all workplaces that tried to recruit.
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