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Silver lining to skills shortage


News of skills shortages, particularly a need for 200,000 more people working within the service sectors, continues to make headlines.

Now, six of New Zealand’s regions have solid data for decision making as well as some concrete actions to help solve the problem. ServiceIQ has released Regional Roadmaps and Action Plans for Northland, Bay of Plenty, Queenstown-Lakes and Otago & Southland. Christchurch City also has a roadmap and plan, as does Auckland’s tourism sector.

A striking fact that’s clear from all six Roadmaps is the large number of people needed in every region, especially when considered as a percentage of existing employment. Between now and 2020, between 26% and a worryingly high 41% more people will be needed in these regions. In total, more than 72,000 jobs (that’s a third more than exist now) will need to be filled by 2020 in these six regions alone.

Dean Minchington is ServiceIQ’s Chief Executive. He says that although the looming skills shortage is a national problem, it needs local action. “The situation is serious for service sector businesses, but there’s a silver lining too. With this growth there are opportunities for local people to get local jobs and to gain new skills as they learn on-job. It means that young people will be able to get their first job and get started on a rewarding career. It means that those a bit older wishing to return to work, change careers, or make a life change will have that opportunity.”

ServiceIQ is working with businesses, industry associations and local and central government to ensure that the Roadmap action plans deliver. “It’s important to ensure that these aren’t talk fests that bring a lot of back slapping and nothing else. There’s a real opportunity here for change. There’s the chance for communities and local businesses to invest in themselves and their people. With the right actions, the regions can build stronger and sustainable businesses, and grow the skills and careers of their employees who are, after all, members of the community too.

“For example, with clever thinking and a will to make things better, there is the opportunity for people who might have health issues to be able to get into work and benefit from gaining new skills, being involved in the camaraderie and connections that a workplace brings, as well as earning income.

“In this way, sustainable regional skills will address a national skills shortage issue as well as improve the social and economic measures of those regions.”

Dean Minchington says that supporting people into work to meet the looming regional jobs shortage will need joint effort.

“Success of the regional action plans is dependent on the local service sector taking leadership and regular measurement and updates on progress. ServiceIQ will track and measure progress against the regional roadmap action plan. We will also work closely with all involved to ensure that effective on-job training and upskilling options are available for employees, whether they are existing staff or people new to the sector and filling one of those 67,000 new jobs.”

The release of this first set of regional roadmaps is particularly timely given the growth in tourism and discussions about its impact on New Zealand and how regions can share the economic benefits.

“The benefits of tourism, in particular, need to be spread throughout the community and not just accrue to those businesses directly involved. This ‘social licence to operate’ is becoming a big issue. As a Sustainable Business Council report stated: ‘Adult New Zealanders consistently prefer businesses to contribute to the public good, in addition to generating returns to investors’. Public good can be donating to a good cause, but being seen to employ, train, up-skill and offer career opportunities for locals young and old can be as effective, longer-lasting and provides a direct return on the investment.”

The full list of initiatives for each region are in the relevant Regional Roadmap, available at

Service sector Job openings tableServiceIQ is working with local businesses, organisations and experts on Regional Roadmaps and Action Plans for 10 more regions. These will be released as they’re finalised over the next 18 months.