Feeling overwhelmed? You could be suffering from 'brain drain'

Feeling overwhelmed? You could be suffering from 'brain drain'

The single biggest staller to business growth is the lack of people to fill roles. APAC’s talent shortage is real and if the latest round of surveys and reports is anything to go by, it’s only going to get worse for businesses.

  • The labour market conditions report from Sense Partners showed critical worker shortages in the jobs market.
  • Kiwibank forecast that emigrants would out number immigrants by 20,000 in 2022, a number not seen since 2011.
  • A NZ Institute of Economic Research survey revealed that 70% of businesses are currently recruiting for highly skilled people and 68% of businesses are recruiting for low to medium skilled people and some of those roles simply won’t get filled.

Now there’s more bad news from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment predicting a resurgence of brain-drain. 

The brain drain caused significant strain on employers in 2011, when fifty thousand people in New Zealand’s workforce left our shores in search of greener pastures abroad. They were lured by better pay, better perks, and superior, yet less expensive cost-of-living that was available to them in New Zealand.

As our borders once again reopen to countries with better pay, perks, and cost of living, MBIE says we now face another mass-emigration of kiwi talent; giving an initial estimate that roughly 50,000 and potentially as many as 125,000 workers might choose to emigrate indefinitely over the next year.

All New Zealand business sectors, all businesses, big and small, will be screaming out for people in 2022, Alan McDonald, Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA), told Newshub.

Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern said she wasn’t worried about a brain drain, labelling it as normal for kiwis to want to experience an OE, and New Zealand would continue to attract highly skilled individuals as well. Minor opposition parties disagree – Act’s David Seymour wants to fix the problem by lowering taxes to keep people here and Green’s Chloe Swarbrick thinks prioritising public transport might keep young people from leaving our shores.

Ben Pearson, Executive GM at Beyond Recruitment said during an interview with Newshub that the problem is very real, but it isn’t just the high numbers of people leaving, it’s the high calibre of the people leaving. “They’re right at that sweet spot of their career, where they’re accelerating, they’re highly productive, they’re generally high-performers and they’re just at that point where they’re adding a lot of value to their organisations.

With a government that doesn’t see a problem and an election not scheduled until next year is there anything business can do to stop the brain drain?

Pearson says that there’s not much you can do to keep people here. After all, people need to live their lives. He believes that business should instead turn to alternative strategies to keep the wheels turning and predicts that the next few years will become the era of ‘transferable skills’ for employers as they will need to seek out and embrace highly skilled people with transferrable skills.

McDonald said employers will need to get highly involved with their workforce and give them all the encouragement they can to stay. He suggests working on career development and giving additional training alongside flexible working arrangements and being flexible around childcare.

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