Recruitment Difficulties, Skill Shortages and Skill Gaps

Eighteen departments reported recruitment difficulties in the year to 30 June 2004. Remuneration continues to be the most common recruitment barrier across departments. Departments reported difficulty competing with private sector rates for occupations such as call centre operators, managers and communications staff, and competing against remuneration rates within the Public Service for some occupations such as policy analysts.

The tight labour market was also reported as a barrier to recruitment with low numbers of applicants, particularly for frontline positions. Some departments recruit from the same labour pool as the construction and transportation industries where there has been considerable growth in employment and wages in recent years.

Skill shortages exist when employers have difficulty filling vacancies for positions where pay and conditions are reasonable. The most commonly reported skill shortage was for policy analysts, particularly senior policy analysts. It was reported that there was strong competition in a small labour market and a lack of suitably qualified and experienced candidates available for senior policy positions.

Other skill shortages reported by more than one department were for HR advisers, analysts, administrative staff, health and safety advisers, psychologists and a range of IT positions.

Reported skill shortages that were department specific were prison officers, community probation service managers, social workers and social work supervisors, veterinarians, food technology professionals, legal secretaries, archives analysts, speech language therapists, advisers in early childhood education and statistical methodologists.

Common methods reported for dealing with skill shortages were using contractors, secondments, recruiting from overseas, and internal training.

Management skills were the most commonly reported skill gap. Some departments had developed internal leadership development programmes to address these problems. A lack of policy capability was the second most commonly reported skill gap. General causes for the gap were a lack of: experience, quantitative skills and subject matter knowledge. Some departments reported a lack of knowledge and expertise in the Treaty, Māori and Pacific issues and language.

The tight labour market, and competition for staff in occupations common across agencies in the Public Service, were the most common factors departments expected to have a significant impact on future capability. These factors were expected to compound remuneration pressures, with some departments continuing to find their remuneration levels not competitive enough to attract or retain good staff. Changes in government policy, service delivery and technology were also commonly reported as factors that would affect future capability.

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