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ServiceIQ: Skills shortage reaching crisis point

18 Jul 2017  By Contributor

ServiceIQ’s chief executive, Dean Minchington, says a looming skills shortage is putting the service sector at risk and New Zealand will be the worse for it.

Dean Minchington


There’s a skill shortage looming in the service industry that’s going to affect all New Zealanders, across all regions, and visitors to our country.
Without scaremongering, there’s a very real crisis around the corner. It puts our successful service sectors at risk, and unless things change soon, New Zealand will be worse for it
It’s a shortage of skilled labour needed to fill around 200,000 jobs that will be opening in the next two and a half years, according to the latest At Your Service Aotearoa economic report. Most of this is due to extraordinary exponential growth across sectors that include tourism – New Zealand’s leading economic earner – hospitality, retail and aviation.
To understand the impact of a skills shortage, the building and construction industry is a prime example of what can happen when supply can’t meet demand, and in that industry the shortage has led to a whole range of issues including chronic delays in service, higher prices and homelessness.
The service industry touches every aspect of our lives from your cup of coffee, your grocery shop (online and in-store) to your next trip away. Among the roles service businesses urgently needs to fill are: retail managers, hotel staff, restaurant staff, chefs, even aircraft engineers and pilots.
All politicians, both central government and local must work together to change things for the better.
This is more than an industry being a victim of its own success. In fact, if we approach this together and take ownership to find a solution, it could be an opportunity not just for the industry but for the country.
Connecting Kiwis with jobs and skills key to a sustainable workforce
The Government’s new investment of $50m to help the most at-risk young people in regional New Zealand into jobs is to be applauded. In fact, there’s a strong alignment between this initiative and the manifesto addressing the service sector skills shortage recently released by At Your Service Aotearoa.
Our sectors have an urgent need for talented people and a lot to offer New Zealanders who are yet to discover their potential or direct their talent.
ServiceIQ is well positioned to play a vigorous role as part of the solution.
We know that when a low skilled person gets a job, upskills and stays in the role for over a year, they are well on their way and much less likely to leave and go back on a benefit.
If we go the next logical step – based on our experience of the services industry – I believe that getting into a job and training to gain skills and knowledge in a supportive workplace, is a highly transformative and persuasive experience.
Getting paid a regular salary while getting an education and valuable experience on the job is the best way to get out from under and carve out a future. Working and training at the same time provide a real opportunity for people to discover and develop their talent which in turn can improve confidence, self-worth, well-being, and ultimately open other opportunities for a more satisfying and enjoyable life.
ServiceIQ is already involved with many organisations and working in partnership to address this major issue.
A good example is the AccorHotels and Ministry of Social Development’s Building Futures programme. This gives beneficiaries the opportunity to undertake pre-employment training and begin a fast-track to gaining a nationally-recognised ServiceIQ hospitality qualification. This is part of the AccorHotels pledge to play a part in combating youth unemployment, and it’s a perfect fit with our challenge to elected officials, government departments and employers to act.
The Warehouse Group is another organisation that is working closely with ServiceIQ. As well as on-job training to upskill its workforce, from entry jobs to management roles, we’re connected with the Warehouse in the Community initiative, especially around youth employment. There are three joint initiatives.
Firstly, together we provide the Red Shirts in Schools programme that gives students nationwide the opportunity to experience the working world, gain useful life and work skills and earn NCEA credits. Secondly, youth employment is also being addressed with a similar programme for 18 to 24-year-olds that sees them also get experience that will help them gain employment, including working towards a ServiceIQ certificate in Customer Service.
These are just some examples. We also work on gateway with Z Energy, and with the McDonald’s Oasis programme, and there are others such as Progressive Enterprises, which is piloting its own gateway programme and is keen to get involved. In addition, we offer tourism gateway students the unique experience of attending cultural camps at maraes in Waitomo and on Waiheke Island.
We’d like to see many more initiatives or practical ideas, and right across the service sector in businesses large and small. We’re prepared to work with others to make this happen.
ServiceIQ is putting more initiatives in place.
We have just established two new jobs to assist employers and regional organisations with workforce development. These people will work to ensure that the initiatives – defined in ServiceIQ’s regional Workforce Development Plans – become actions, and that the results help to resolve some of the looming staffing and skill issues.
ServiceIQ is doing its part, but we can’t do it alone. We need employers, regional and local decision makers, and government agencies on board, and all working together to help people into work, help them up-skill on the job and set themselves up for a rewarding career, and to provide them with support when and where needed.

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