Whanganui recruitment agencies are experiencing an increase in demand as the Covid-19 pandemic affects jobs and the way businesses operate.

Louise Bird, of Outsourced Temp Agency, said more people were submitting CVs to her.

"Some from those who unsuccessfully job-hunted pre Covid-19 and others from those who are uncertain if their jobs will exist once the wage subsidy ends," Bird said.

"I now have close to 70 people seeking work - around 25 per cent are highly skilled and educated.

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"From contact I've had with clients and potential clients over the past few weeks, the general feeling is level 2 will bring more business certainty thus opening up contract, temporary and, in some cases, permanent role vacancies."

Outsourced Temp Agency's Louise Bird says level 2 is likely to open up more contract, temporary and some permanent role vacancies. Photo / File
Outsourced Temp Agency's Louise Bird says level 2 is likely to open up more contract, temporary and some permanent role vacancies. Photo / File

Bird said she had identified various scenarios in which companies were likely to seek temporary workers.

Permanent employees might be unable to go to work due to the need to care for their young families, and staff aged 65-plus or with compromised immune systems might need to stay at home a little longer.

Businesses might be reluctant to hire permanent staff until there was more business certainty and others might need to change the way they operate, Bird said.

Some businesses might trial new contactless systems or diversify product lines and needed specialised help in the short term, or assistance with a backlog of administration work that they couldn't deal with during lockdown.

Whanganui's export-focused businesses might need to boost their workforce quickly, she said.

"There are definitely new trends in the way recruitment is operating - like all businesses, we are operating under strict Covid-19 guidelines so meetings are via phone or Zoom. We are only meeting with new temps remotely and we are working from home offices. Our central city office space is small, so only one other client or temp will be in this space at any given time once we move to level 2.

"We expect to continue operating like this for the foreseeable future but, in terms of recruiting a temp for a position, this does not negatively impact our pre-employment screening, such as phoning referees, processing Ministry of Justice checks, interviewing.

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"We can place our workforce in positions as long as social distancing measures are adhered to. It's just a different way of operating and we are adapting like everybody else. It helps that around 70 per cent of our temps had already been interviewed pre-lockdown so now the focus is on actively recruiting roles for them."

Blue-collar recruitment company AWF, which has a branch in Whanganui, has also experienced an increase in job seekers.

"We have seen many more people applying for work during this time, some who may have already lost their jobs, and others who anticipate this happening in the near future," AWF general manager Donna Lynch said.

"In the past two weeks, we have seen an exponential increase in job applications through our advertising, and many more candidates making direct calls or enquiring through our social networks for jobs."

AWF has experienced an increase in job seekers. Photo / Bevan Conley
AWF has experienced an increase in job seekers. Photo / Bevan Conley

The company had been able to provide experienced staff for essential services during the level 4 lockdown and there had been an increase in demand for candidates during level 3. Lynch said she expected demand to further increase as the country moved into level 2.

"Some employers have needed additional workforce to manage alternative ways of working, and we have seen an increase in roles such as pick pack staff, supermarket packers, security personnel and logistics roles," Lynch said.

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"We have also seen other businesses practise physical distancing while transporting staff or performing work in sectors such as roading, which has meant a change in the way they operate, split shifts or consider other alternatives which may including onboarding additional workers."

Some employers had altered their production and shift scheduling to accommodate the needs of their employees, such as childcare or personal health concerns, while abiding by the physical distancing guidelines.

"Businesses are finding ways to do the best they can by their employees. We have noticed businesses looking for alternate opportunities in high-demand sectors for employees that have been displaced. AWF has been the conduit for transitioning the people who have been impacted. An example would be finding opportunities for people who have lost their jobs in the airline sector into new in-demand areas such as grocery.

"We expect there to be caution and a lack of appetite by some businesses to hire permanent workforce. We foresee contingent and contract staffing solutions to be effective ways for businesses to upscale to meet market demand as we move into alert level 2 and beyond.

"We found many businesses placing a huge focus on supporting New Zealand's economy, which is highly beneficial to our recovery as a nation."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

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