Our thriving economy needs skilled talent

Our economy is thriving and businesses are in a buoyant mood as the region experiences strong economic growth and rising employment.
Photo / Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images
Photo / Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images

The Auckland economy grew 3.6 per cent last year driven by strong investment, spending and employment growth. The increased net migration - 29,010 at October 2015 - has also boosted demand. Employment in the Auckland region grew 1.5 per cent last year and the unemployment rate fell slightly to 6.2 per cent - though the easing in unemployment is limited by the expanding labour force. Businesses are also challenged to source talent with specific skill sets and to grow strongly from small and medium-sized enterprises (SME's) to a larger entity.

The Auckland Chamber's most recent Business Confidence Survey confirmed that the availability, or rather lack of availability, of people with the right skills and the right talent can impact on businesses' ability to make the most of good economic times.

Over 48% of Auckland businesses responding to the survey confirmed they are having difficulty finding the talent they need.

It is an issue when the regional economy is so strong and talent is so mobile, it seems that New Zealand is an attractive place to be, but there is a mismatch between the skills that are coming here and the skills that business need says Chamber CEO Michael Barnett.

"Unless we get the right skills match, we are not going to get the real dividend for the New Zealand economy that we should expect from good economic times and a growing population," says Michael Barnett.

However the survey also revealed that Auckland businesses have confidence that the general business situation in New Zealand is improving.

The Awards highlight the efforts and successes of small and medium-sized businesses which are the backbone of the Auckland economy, with many creating a local and global footprint as internationally competitive companies. Many still start in a corner office or home shed before expanding into sophisticated facilities on sites such as Highbrook and Albany.

Auckland businesses can be proud of their combined contributions. GDP per capita is eight per cent higher than the rest of New Zealand and serving as the country's main international gateway, Auckland exports 24 per cent of the country's goods and 42 per cent of its services.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) works closely with local boards throughout Auckland to support economic growth within the regions. In its relationship with the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and as partners delivering the Awards, both entities focus on building business capacity resulting in more jobs on offer, and more young people being employed which is better for our local communities.

Auckland is experiencing strong growth in 'advanced industries.' Businesses in these industries including high-tech manufacturing and ICT employ more highly skilled people and invest heavily in innovation and research and development.

ATEED Chief Executive Brett O'Riley cites innovation as a key driver of economic and social growth, and a critical element of creating a prosperous economy.

"We are renowned for thinking outside the square, but as we compete internationally for talent, skills and investment our need to innovate has never been greater," he says.
"We are working with the software industry and Immigration New Zealand to attract top tech talent to Auckland, and to improve the pipeline for domestic talent,"
Brett O'Riley says.

"Auckland is on the road to becoming an innovation hub of the Asia-Pacific. Our tech sector is booming with nearly 26 per cent growth in GDP in the last five years with the sector producing $2.7 billion in exports, representing 44 per cent of New Zealand's total export earnings in the sector," he says.

- NZ Herald

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