A looming shortage of skilled labour in New Zealand could get worse as Australian businesses look to address an even more chronic shortage, according to the findings of the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report.
The survey, which canvasses the opinions of medium to large privately held businesses, found that the availability of a skilled workforce (27%) was one of the biggest constraints for New Zealand. Australia was 31%.
Peter Sherwin, a partner at Grant Thornton New Zealand, said Australia would be looking to New Zealand to help fill the gaps in its labour workforce. For example, the state of Victoria was recently advertising in New Zealand for childcare workers, offering $A57,000 per annum.
“It’s a big worry for New Zealand. Australia is seen as a highly attractive, accessible alternative. The average pay is 30% higher, personal tax rates are lower, the Government has several individual and family support packages and, of course, there’s the climate.”
Sherwin attributed Australia’s acute skilled workforce shortage to the fact that it largely escaped the recession, helped by its Government’s pro-active approach, so there were few redundancies with businesses largely consolidating their position.
Sherwin said that the New Zealand government should not have brushed aside the Brash Report it recently commissioned. “There are some interesting concepts that deserve greater consideration”.
“What we need is a plan to get the average New Zealand wage up to the same level as Australia. I think it’s fair to say that our government has been caught empty handed and without any real plan. It’s clear that they didn’t expect the recession to technically end as quickly as it has and confidence to return so soon.”
The survey looked at six areas of constraint on a business’s ability to expand. Compared with last year, regulations and red tape was the biggest concern at 33%, reduced demand at 30% followed by lack of skilled labour (27%), shortage of working capital (19%), cost of finance (14%), and shortage of long term finance (11%).
With more than one million New Zealanders now living overseas, Sherwin said one of our big exports is good quality people.
“Every taxpayer who leaves New Zealand represents less tax for the Government and our average income potential drops yet again. Exacerbating our skills shortage is the number of major employers, who have shifted their head offices to Australia and call centres to Asia”.
The International Business Survey covers more than 7400 respondents in 36 economies. A privately held business includes businesses such as entrepreneurs, family businesses and non-listed entities, which account for over 98% of businesses worldwide.
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