Talented employees needed in Gisborne

'In some ways it's a good problem to have.'

'In some ways it's a good problem to have.'

Export NZ executive director Catherine Beard. Picture supplied
Skilled: Carrie Murdoch, Business NZ education skills and trade manager. Picture by Simon Elwell

GISBORNE businesses have been urged to think nationally and globally when trying to encourage more people to move to the region for high-paying jobs.

An Activate Tairawhiti report last year found that between 3500 and 5000 new jobs would come online across the region over the next 10 years and Gisborne business representatives this week reiterated the importance of being able to get more access to talented employees.

Following a discussion group organised by advocacy group Business Central, Export New Zealand executive director Catherine Beard said Gisborne had some positives to build on but businesses had raised the issue of being able to gain access to highly-skilled employees.

Overall, the economy was in good shape but that also created its own issues with workforces being at capacity.

"You have all these companies competing for a pool of talent. That is challenging but in some ways it’s a good problem to have.”

That meant not only keeping existing talent here but attracting new talent globally.

“Every region needs to figure out their competitive advantage and what they have to offer people who want to come and live here, and that is also being competitive internationally. It’s not just a North Island or South Island issue.”

The horticulture industry in particular needed to promote the positive investments that flowed from attracting highly-skilled jobs to the region, which enabled businesses to further invest and grow their local workforce.

Business NZ education, skills and trade manager Carrie Murdoch said regions also needed to get local “movers and shakers” to collaborate more.

Ms Murdoch said while Gisborne had some of the attributes for success by being a place where talent wanted to live, given the lifestyle options here, what was missing in the equation was high-paying jobs.

“So, maybe it’s up to local business leaders to get together with the economic development agency to say ‘individually we might not be able to do much but collectively, what can we do to attract talent?’ ”

“From the conversations we’ve had, it sounds like business conditions are quite good at the moment in Gisborne but running into some labour constraints.”

Ms Murdoch praised the efforts here to improve the ability of local young people to transition from education into employment.

Although 70 percent of children did not attend university, most schools were set up to focus on sending people to university.

“We need to ease the transition of young people into employment. We need to expose them to employers in the workplace and there are some good things happening around work experience. Gateway is a great programme, there are cadetships and more recently the Vocational Pathways initiative.”

However, Ms Beard pointed out that there were issues internationally that caused concern for New Zealand businesses.

“In terms of the big picture, I think there is a bit of concern for the growing trend for nationalism that we are seeing play out. We have seen that in the United States. We saw it, I guess, with Brexit, the UK vote to leave the EU. Of course there are a whole lot of elections playing out across Europe, where you could go from open and connected, to increasingly nationalistic, depending on how the vote goes.

‘So, I think there is a bit of nervousness because New Zealand is very dependent on the world being open for trade and, historically, we have always faced the toughest tariffs with regards agri-exports and in horticulture.”

Ms Beard said it was really important that a replacement for the TPP agreement was found and NZ was able to get agreements with the UK and EU.

GISBORNE businesses have been urged to think nationally and globally when trying to encourage more people to move to the region for high-paying jobs.

An Activate Tairawhiti report last year found that between 3500 and 5000 new jobs would come online across the region over the next 10 years and Gisborne business representatives this week reiterated the importance of being able to get more access to talented employees.

Following a discussion group organised by advocacy group Business Central, Export New Zealand executive director Catherine Beard said Gisborne had some positives to build on but businesses had raised the issue of being able to gain access to highly-skilled employees.

Overall, the economy was in good shape but that also created its own issues with workforces being at capacity.

"You have all these companies competing for a pool of talent. That is challenging but in some ways it’s a good problem to have.”

That meant not only keeping existing talent here but attracting new talent globally.

“Every region needs to figure out their competitive advantage and what they have to offer people who want to come and live here, and that is also being competitive internationally. It’s not just a North Island or South Island issue.”

The horticulture industry in particular needed to promote the positive investments that flowed from attracting highly-skilled jobs to the region, which enabled businesses to further invest and grow their local workforce.

Business NZ education, skills and trade manager Carrie Murdoch said regions also needed to get local “movers and shakers” to collaborate more.

Ms Murdoch said while Gisborne had some of the attributes for success by being a place where talent wanted to live, given the lifestyle options here, what was missing in the equation was high-paying jobs.

“So, maybe it’s up to local business leaders to get together with the economic development agency to say ‘individually we might not be able to do much but collectively, what can we do to attract talent?’ ”

“From the conversations we’ve had, it sounds like business conditions are quite good at the moment in Gisborne but running into some labour constraints.”

Ms Murdoch praised the efforts here to improve the ability of local young people to transition from education into employment.

Although 70 percent of children did not attend university, most schools were set up to focus on sending people to university.

“We need to ease the transition of young people into employment. We need to expose them to employers in the workplace and there are some good things happening around work experience. Gateway is a great programme, there are cadetships and more recently the Vocational Pathways initiative.”

However, Ms Beard pointed out that there were issues internationally that caused concern for New Zealand businesses.

“In terms of the big picture, I think there is a bit of concern for the growing trend for nationalism that we are seeing play out. We have seen that in the United States. We saw it, I guess, with Brexit, the UK vote to leave the EU. Of course there are a whole lot of elections playing out across Europe, where you could go from open and connected, to increasingly nationalistic, depending on how the vote goes.

‘So, I think there is a bit of nervousness because New Zealand is very dependent on the world being open for trade and, historically, we have always faced the toughest tariffs with regards agri-exports and in horticulture.”

Ms Beard said it was really important that a replacement for the TPP agreement was found and NZ was able to get agreements with the UK and EU.

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