Employers told to brace for challenging summer amid talent crunch

Queenstown Lakes District may need to rely on 'leaner workforce'

Employers told to brace for challenging summer amid talent crunch

Employers in New Zealand's Queenstown Lakes District are being warned of a challenging summer ahead as worker availability goes down amid a surge in listed job ads.

The latest quarterly snapshot released by the district council revealed a 330.4% increase in local job ads from September 2021 to September 2022.

However, worker availability is down 36.8% for those on employer-assisted visas and down 52.8% for jobseekers in the district.

The findings indicate that the peak summer season ahead will be "tougher," according to the report, amid an already challenging labour climate due to staffing shortages.

One-half of businesses are finding it difficult to fill unskilled roles, while 65% struggle to find talent for skilled or specialist roles.

Many businesses had to "close their doors one or two days a week" to let their employees rest amid the shortages, says Sharon Fifield, Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce head of business growth, in RNZ.

"To add to their worries, attracting more staff is proving difficult due to a lack of available housing," she says. "It's great to see so many businesses providing worker accommodation, but there is still quite a gap in supply."

Filled jobs go up

The lack of manpower came despite an overall 3.6% increase in filled jobs in the district, particularly in construction, professional services, recreational services, manufacturing, and health.

The increase covered up the drop of jobs in accommodation and food service in September 2022, according to the report, adding that over 70% of job ads come from the industry.

The district's struggle in talent shortage is reflected across New Zealand, as many businesses call for help in finding new talent in the wake of the pandemic.

'Leaner workforce'

But as the labour shortage extends, employers in Queenstown may need to start relying on their "leaner workforce" and invest in system improvements to maintain operations.

"We need to be realistic that, while Queenstown-Lakes is an attractive place that will always entice some workers, we can't rely on this as our only strategy for fixing our labour market shortages. Businesses need to accept they may need to operate with a perpetually leaner workforce and should begin to focus their investments accordingly," says the report. 

"Many people think about investment as a tool for expansion. But instead, businesses who aren't already doing so should also challenge themselves to think about technologies, processes, and systems improvements they could invest in to maintain their yield with fewer staff."

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