"The Silver Bullet"

01 December 2021 Kaleb Leeming - Recruit I.T. Director

Silver Bullet

​For the last couple of years, it has been easy to blame the worsening talent shortage the technology industry has grappled with in New Zealand on Covid-19 and the resultant border closures. Many in the sector – both business operators and recruiters – have been waiting with bated breath for the Covid situation to settle and for travel and immigration restrictions to ease.

Meanwhile, businesses both onshore and globally have adapted their business practices, and we've seen a convergence of digital services that have allowed organisations to ensure their staff can work remotely under lockdown situations, and they can continue to deliver their products and services and remain profitable, even if they can't operate in a traditional onsite manner.

What has also become evident is that it's not just kiwi businesses struggling to secure talent. Organisations across Europe, the US and South America, and Asia are reporting the same pain points that we see here in NZ when filling tech roles. As a result, we have seen an increase in headhunting from international companies for kiwi talent, with extremely lucrative offers, all working remotely from NZ.

The illusion that there is plenty of tech talent outside of NZ and we just need the border open is quite simply that – an illusion. US labour stats state there is a global talent shortage amounting to 40 million skilled workers worldwide; and a recent Mckinsey survey stated 87% of companies are already experiencing a talent shortage.

So, what is the silver bullet solution to solving the technology talent crisis in New Zealand? Well… there isn't one. Even an open border and the appeal of a kiwi lifestyle is unlikely to be attractive enough to entice the number of people we need into New Zealand, considering the extremely attractive offers we are seeing presented to candidates from global organisations.

That poses the question, what can New Zealand businesses do to secure talent when competing on this global stage in a post-Covid world?

There is no single solution – organisations need to be thinking forward, ensuring they are doing all the small things very well, and implementing new solutions to nurture a good pipeline of talent through their business.

Understand the market

Salaries are increasing at a phenomenal rate, international companies are making lucrative offers to NZ candidates, and even in the local market, we see situations where candidates have multiple offers or counter-offers on the table. Organisations must understand current salary expectations and have processes in place to work through negotiations quickly or review bands and caps.

Also, don't leave your existing team behind. Ensure you review their salaries against current market rates and adjust as required, as this is a key part of retention.

Improve your recruitment practices

In a candidate short market, time is not on your side. If your recruitment practices result in long delays to shortlist and interview candidates, or you delay making offers, you are likely to miss out on your top choices as they are offered other positions in the meantime. Be adaptable and flexible in the way you plan your workforce to allow you to bring on talented and skilled individuals when they become available on the market.

Promote your Employee Value Proposition

Candidates are discerning and have options on the table, so if similar salaries are on offer, their decision might come down to other factors such as your culture, values and overall EVP. Your employee value proposition must be sound and attractive, so applicants are aware of benefits outside of remuneration such as flexibility/WFH opportunities, training and development, social initiatives, and other tangible or unique benefits like extra leave, insurances or access to discounts.

Graduate programmes

For a nation lacking in technology talent, we have surprisingly few high-quality graduate programmes set up, and this is an area that many of our international peers excel at. New Zealand businesses need to tap into our graduate talent and ensure appropriate learning and development opportunities are in place or risk losing our up-and-coming talent offshore. There are several emerging short-course certifications and related education providers supporting new talent into the industry.

Offshore talent and other innovative sourcing solutions

Just as offshore companies are targeting us, we should also be bold and tap into overseas talent pools. Various innovative solutions can be explored here, from onboarding permanent candidates and bringing them into NZ once border restrictions are loosened to utilising offshore-based contract talent pools.

While it would be nice to sit back and hope that a silver bullet solution to talent shortages is on its way, that is simply not the case. We need to up our game across all aspects of our talent sourcing, onboarding, and, more importantly, retention if we want to compete globally and retain our reputation of delivering the innovative and world-leading outputs we have become known for internationally.