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The Queenstown Lakes District continues to experience sustained growth causing issues around labour force, skills and accommodation shortages. Since 2016, the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce annually surveys members to understand more about labour and accommodation issues. The results from these surveys are benchmarked and the information gained help shape appropriate workplace strategies for the region. 230 members completed the annual Labour & Accommodation Survey in October 2018. Key findings were around skills shortages and lack of accommodation options with employers suggesting they needed help with building lower cost accommodation (74%) and a better range of accommodation choices for workers (72%). Issues around immigration remain significant with employers requesting an increase to the length of work visas and a reduction in the eligibility restrictions on work visas. You can read a full summary of the survey results here. The Queenstown Chamber of Commerce engaged Human Connections Group to develop an HR Resource Kit to assist local employers to develop a greater understanding of how to create ‘attraction, engagement and retention’ strategies aimed at reducing labour and skills shortages. This is a self-assessment tool to assist those employers who do not have formal HR departments. Employers can use this document to build a picture of their business presently, how they attract talent, where the best talent has come from and what activities they currently undertake to employ, engage and retain talent. You can download a copy of the HR Resource Kit  here. Planning is underway for a series of seminars around retention and attraction of staff as it relates to the HR Resource Kit. The new Employers' Support Programme will be advertised in the New Year.
The total number of roles advertised in November grew to 1,034 up 8% from October 2018 and a massive 31% from November 2017 reflecting the feedback from employers on just how difficult it has become to find staff. The seasonal trend line, while up overall for 2018, was closely following 2017 until mid-October when the two lines separated. In 2018 the number of roles advertisers has continued to grow through November which is a very different pattern to previous years. The Queenstown numbers in November compare with the national increase of 1.4% m/m reported in October in the ANZ Job Ads numbers. Summary The number of job opportunities rose 31% in November over the prior year The seasonal trend line diverged mid-October  The quarterly moving average continues to rise to 8% up from 5% in the previous quarter The rolling three months has the number of opportunities available expanding by 19% All sectors are having issues finding staff All sectors are showing a similar pattern of growth   The total number of roles advertised in November climbed steeply illustrating the challenge that employers are having in finding staff. The increases impacted all sectors in the region. Construction, Retail, Tourism and Hospitality continue to be the major drivers of jobs in Queenstown, accounting for 85% of all the available roles. David Gibbs Commercial Operations Manager -Lakes Weekly & JobFix
In an increasingly competitive talent market, it’s never been more important to find and retain the right candidate . But how can you be sure you’ve found a quality candidate and what are the red flags you need to look out for? Attracting, interviewing and hiring new employees is a time-intensive, painful and costly exercise, so it’s important to know the warning signs of candidates who aren’t going to be a good fit for your business. Warning signs when reviewing a candidate’s resume Here are three red flags to watch for when reviewing a candidate’s CV: Employment Gaps - Check for the gaps in the timeframe and ask a candidate to explain them- do the answers ring true? Employment gaps are absolutely fine if the reason is logical, such as a break to travel, to further a learning degree or having a child. While most candidates will have at least one gap in their work history, the red flag is periods of unemployment that are not backed up with a reasonable explanation . Lac k of attention to detail - this can be a huge red flag. A candidate should go through their resume and cover letter with a fine-toothed comb before hitting the submit button. Ultimately if there are errors, this lack of attention may reflect how they will behave if hired . Generi c cover letter - a general resume and cover letter that could be used for multiple jobs is a warning sign. If your role is specific, well paid and you are looking for a long-term candidate the documentation should be written with you in mind. The candidate should tailor their resume and cover letter to your business and focus on the role they are applying for and show exactly what they offer and how it relates to your role. Interview red flags There are certain attitudes or ways of communicating that should make hiring managers think twice about a candidate. Egotistical behaviour or arrogance - there’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence, but if a candidate presents as someone who knows it all or speaks only about themselves, it’s a warning sign that they may find it difficult to accept feedback and may not fit well within a team. Late or moving the interview - a candidate who is late to an interview or pushes the interview out should be a red flag. If your meeting is not a high priority when they are looking for employment and then this is likely to be a way of operating when they are hired. Short on the details - a candidate who isn’t willing to provide necessary information or bring required documents to an interview (such as referee details or visa status) is a concern. It should start to get you to question their suitability. Why aren’t they willing to participate in basic checks? What are they trying to hide? What to do if you have concerns? It’s tempting in the employment market Queenstown is experiencing, to forgive or turn a blind eye to the warning signs and employers ideally need to give candidates the opportunity to explain their side of the story before making a decision. However, identifying the wrong candidate before it’s too late comes down to doing your due diligence from the outset. If your short list doesn’t have a worthy back up candidates, this leaves you exposed. Reference checking even if they are overseas and speaking to two or three previous employers and being prepared to ask hard questions to persuade yourself that this truly is a worthy employee. Finally, look at how the candidate presents themselves on public social media channels. These steps will help reduce the risk of the wrong employee being hired.
The formation of the Labour/NZ First coalition was a cause for concern for many employers who feared the new government would be ‘closing the doors’ to overseas workers. Whilst no major policy changes have been introduced, we have seen subtle tweaks to the system which have made it more challenging for employers who rely on migrant labour – both in terms of the direct cost of employing migrant workers and the ease (or lack) of getting work visas. These challenges will be more difficult for those who employ migrant workers in roles at the lower end of the skills spectrum, in sectors such as retail, hospitality and tourism. The subtle movement here by the government is to increase the cost of migrant workers to New Zealand employers , with a hope that this will passively move employers away from reliance on offshore labour and invest in training New Zealanders instead. A similar approach is being taken by the Australian government. Everyone agrees that we should operate a ‘New Zealanders first’ policy, but this only works if there are enough Kiwis available, who are suitably skilled and/or willing to be trained. There are not enough in both counts in the Southern-Lakes region. Since the introduction of the low/mid/highly skilled classification system in August 2017, the minimum pay rates for classifying the skill level of employment have been raised twice, representing a 6% increase . The required wage for maintaining staff in the mid-skilled classification is now $21.25 per hour (up from $20.65 per hour) and this upward trend will continue. For many employers, staff that are in the mid-skilled classification are employees that have been trained and upskilled over 2-3 years or have completed their apprenticeships. Therefore, they are important to retain and often difficult to replace. The impact of the skill-level classifications is even greater when combined with the significant increases in visa application fees. The fee for an Essential Skills work visa application is now $495, up a whopping 60%. The impact of this price increase is greater for those applying for a low-skilled Essential Skills visa, which now must be renewed every 12 months. It’s clear that the intention is to encourage employers to make considered decisions before employing a migrant worker into both low and mid-skilled roles (many of which are entry level or ‘second job’ positions). In addition, putting pressure on employers to increase hourly rates to make it more attractive (possible) for Kiwis to work in the region fits with their agenda too. This is especially relevant for the Southern Lakes region where 60% of workers are on a visa. This outcome is being driven largely by these changes hitting employers where it hurts most: in the pocket. Hetish Lochan Associate Lane Neave
Until October, the weekly trend in Job Posts has followed a similar seasonal trend line, fluctuating some weeks but generally staying on the same track. That changed mid-October when 2018 jobs growth continued at a time when previous years would suggest a tapering of activity.   What's going on? Recently, the Chamber of Commerce conducted a member survey on issues facing business in the region . Unsurprisingly, finding and retaining staff was the biggest issue and then housing them followed closely behind; in October that job market seemed to have gotten a whole lot worse. The number of available positions was a whopping 31% ahead of the same time last year and 8% above October. Anecdotally, businesses are reporting that it is taking significantly longer to find qualified candidates and in some cases, we're having staff work double shifts, reduced operating hours or even be in a situation where they were unable to open the doors. Some of the causes we are hearing about: Queenstown is becoming known as busy, or full, resulting in scarce accommodation choices and expensive which seems to be shortening the time that some potential seasonal visitors stay here and as a consequence, they are not entering the job market. The opening of Queenstown Central at Five Mile has increased the pool of employers looking for staff - some of the bigger stores have been looking for large numbers of employees. Some of the retailers are paying above the norm to attract staff putting the pressure on other businesses to look at their rates to retain their staff. The Government has changed the immigration visa criteria making it more expensive to employ, especially low-skilled workers. The cost and availability of accommodation for NZers to make a move to Queenstown are unviable especially if a family move is required. The construction sector is a great example. Throughout the country, and especially in Christchurch, there is a slowing in the sector and a pool of workers is available but the cost of moving to Queenstown if workers have a family just isn’t viable, even if they could find somewhere to live. In summary, the number of workers available isn’t growing, while the total number of roles is expanding rapidly. What can businesses do to combat the issue? The conditions are unlikely to change and could actually become worse next year with major new hotels coming online in 2019 along with further retail development in Frankton. Businesses can de-risk somewhat, though not entirely, through offering above-required incentives to staff. Flexible hours - so that short-term workers can get out and enjoy Queenstown which can assist with their loyalty to your business Career Advancement - t hose with talent may stay longer if you show them a path to a better role within the business in the future. Culture - interestingly, the owner-operated businesses have a higher retention rate as staff feel connected to the business and believe their contribution counts. How does your business create that emotional attachment? Salary - to retain staff its no longer enough to pay the basic rate. How are you positioned against your competitors on salaries and incentives?
Jobseekers, you’re in luck. It’s the best of times to find a job in Queenstown! The latest count for the JobFix Situations Vacant index shows there was a record number of roles advertised in November 2018 . The total number of roles advertised grew to 1,034, which was up 8% from October 2018 and a massive 31% increase from November 2017 . While the hospitality industry was by far the largest contributor to the advertised roles, there was also a significant increase in retail job opportunities as new businesses opened (particularly in the Frankton/Five Mile area) and stores started staffing up prior to the busy Christmas and summer seasons. The growth in available jobs this November shows that Queenstown jobseekers have the pick of the bunch . By comparison, ANZ Job Ads reported a national increase of just 1.4% in October month to month (seasonally adjusted). The total number of roles advertised in November climbed steeply, illustrating the opportunity that job seekers are having in finding roles. Construction, Retail, Tourism, and Hospitality continue to be the major drivers of jobs in Queenstown, accounting for 85% of all the available roles. Summary The number of job opportunities rose 31% in November compared to the previous year The quarterly moving average continues to rise to 8% up from 5% in the previous quarter All sectors have more opportunity for job seekers All sectors are showing a similar pattern of growth. David Gibbs Commercial Operations Manager -Lakes Weekly & JobFix  
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