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Hiring expectations up

Tuesday 26th January 2010

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New Zealand employers are increasingly looking to hire more people in the coming quarter as businesses put the difficulties of 2009 behind them, according to the latest Hudson Report: Employment Expectations.

“As signs of recovery in economic growth continue to build momentum, employers are reporting their highest level of confidence since July 2008,” the quarterly publication said.

Of over 1,200 employers surveyed, 27.7% are looking to increase permanent staff levels, up from 21.9% the previous quarter. The proportion intending headcount reduction decreased from 11.2% to 8.2%.

The IT industry showed particularly strong growth, with over 40% of employers expecting to hire, even in the face of skill shortages. Expectations are that as businesses become more upbeat, they’ll revisit deferred IT projects. Some organisations are also considering bringing the IT function in-house, which will require sourcing staff directly.

Telecommunications showed the largest increase in confidence and employing expectation. Last quarter only 11% of employers intended staff increases, now more than 34% do as there is a sense that telecoms investments, frozen for most of 2009, may now be thawed.

Professional services hiring expectations rose from just over 18% of employers last quarter to 31% now looking to hire, while manufacturing sentiment is the highest seen in two years. Almost a fifth of manufacturers intend hiring new staff as global markets and sales orders show expansion, and an accelerated Australian economic activity and relatively weak NZ dollar against the trans-Tasman neighbour encourages growth.

Employer sentiment in the construction, property and engineering industry is steady; 15% intending to increase permanent staff. There is an expectation that residential construction will be a key driver of economic activity, as well as the $50m national cycleway and Roads of National Significance project announced by the Ministry of Transport.

The report said that though the New Zealand unemployment rate rose to 6.5% in the September 2009 quarter, with almost 150,000 people unemployed nationally, Treasury now expects unemployment to peak lower than previously anticipated.

“Many businesses have put the difficulties experienced during 2009 behind them and the Hudson Report confirms a continuing cautious confidence among New Zealand employers,” said Marc Burrage, executive general manager, Hudson New Zealand. “Although there is broad recognition that the economic recovery will be a gradual affair, employers are increasingly looking for opportunities to protect and grow their business.”

He said many employers are thinking about the staff they need to create and capitalise on opportunities in the year ahead, and that with employee choice increasing in the job market it is critical for businesses to examine strategies for attracting and retaining top talent.

“For many businesses, additional financial remuneration presents challenges so they need to find alternatives to reward and recognise individual to ensure an engaged, motivated and productive team,” Burrage said.

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