May 2016 Accounting Job Market Update
Something very strange is going on in New Zealand’s job market.
I read a really interesting piece by Bernard Hicky in the Herald last week on the March quarter labour force figures.
In it, he noted that although the New Zealand economy has added 120,000 new jobs in the past two years, the numbers of unemployed and underemployed New Zealanders has grown by 30,000.
That’s a staggering figure.
It raises some very big questions about how well we’re equipping our local workforce with the skills our businesses need now and into the future. Especially at entry level, where unemployment and underemployment levels are particularly high.
So just how are businesses filling all these new jobs? Hicky says that much of the demand is being met by immigration.
That’s no doubt true, but the high level of demand for skilled employees is growing at a very healthy clip – and not all of that demand is being met by immigrants. Not by a long shot.
At Consult, we’re talking to many businesses who are leaving new vacancies unfilled, or who aren’t even listing them in the first place, because prior experience tells them their chances of filling them without specialist help are slim.
So, while the unemployment rate isn’t budging, it’s not because of a problem on the demand side. Businesses are without a doubt wanting to hire, it’s just that they can’t find the highly skilled people they need.
We’ve seen an increase in new job listings of exactly 50% in the year to March 30th 2016, compared with the prior year. We’ve had to double our team and open an additional office in Newmarket, just to keep pace with demand.
In this same period, we’ve seen our total numbers of placements increase by 46%, almost in lockstep with the growth in job listings.
In other words, we’ve been able to continue to source highly skilled talent to meet the needs of our clients. But the critical thing to keep in mind here, is that this is all we do. We network with accounting talent day in, day out, and we’re able to tap into a pool of highly skilled people who aren’t actively job searching, rather than go fishing from the same pool of job board applicants our clients already have access to.
Sure, we’re having to work a bit harder to find that talent, but we’re doing it.
For the average business going it alone, though, it’s only going to keep getting harder.
Not only do you have to think about how you’re going to fill all these newly created roles, you should also brace yourself for more of your existing skilled staff leaving in the coming year.
We recently conducted a survey of 4,098 accounting and finance professionals for our upcoming salary guide. An astonishing 83% of respondents said they were considering leaving their job this year.
The conversations our team are having with accounting talent, plus a surge in accounting professionals using our salary comparison tool (users hit the 5,000 mark last week), indicate that many people are concerned about the lack of growth in their salaries.
Combine this with a general perception that the labour market is swinging back in their favour, and we can we expect a lot more movement among highly skilled employees this year.
The take home message? Don’t let those unemployment figures fool you. The pressure on our limited pool of highly skilled talent is increasing. It might have been a cakewalk finding highly skilled staff two years ago; in the next two it will be anything but.
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