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Fighting for the right staff

01 Oct 2006

Everywhere you look at the moment there are dire warnings about the massive skills shortage the industry is facing. And by all accounts the situation isn’t going to get better – so what can you do to get the staff you need?Giles Warbuton, director of Agility Group recruitment agency, says employers are struggling to find good staff across most IT skills groups.Warbuton believes branding is key when it comes to recruiting the right staff.“One of the single biggest factors that impacts on employment branding is when a recruitment drive or interview process is poorly handled. Good candidates quickly become disillusioned if hiring takes too long or if there’s lack of feedback,” he says.In terms of retaining staff Warbuton says open communication is key, especially if the business is going through a period of significant change. “Restructures can be a high stressful time for employees and escape committees can quickly form.” As for how employers can fill the gaps Warbuton says that while there’s no magic formula there are ways to gain an advantage.“Use contract resources to fill critical gaps and buy time while you find the ideal employee, it might be costly but at least the job gets done.” Warbuton says migrants are a great option but warns employers need to make allowances for differing levels of communication skills.“Also, migrants may be used to significantly different corporate cultures and people management styles. Areas such as sales, where employers want candidates with existing networks, can be hard for migrants to break into.”He says migrants tend to be very committed, have undertaken significant personal sacrifice to be here, will research the market and quickly adapt.Meanwhile the HiGrowth Project has a number of initiatives underway to address skills shortages in the ICT sector.Executive director Garth Biggs says his team is currently conducting a study looking into barriers to the employment of immigrants. Biggs says the project is broken into three stages; identifying existing research and anecdotal references, filling in the gaps and making recommendations. He expects the full study to be completed early in the new year. “The role of HiGrowth is to make it possible for the industry to grow and part of that is looking at how we regenerate interest in ICT among New Zealand-born people. But the global reality is that in the next few years there’ll be around 21 million more ICT jobs and only 17 million qualified people coming through,” he says. From the people he’s already spoken to Biggs says there are varying immigrant success stories. One way of de-risking the process is by employing a second-job immigrant, someone who has already worked in New Zealand.“In New Zealand we tend to be very customer facing but if you go to India you can walk into a factory with 1200 PHD code cutters who never even see a customer.” Equally, Biggs says international workers with a good command of English have difficulty relating to the scale of salary offered in New Zealand in comparison to US currency.