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Why the Technology Sector May Miss the “Brain Gain”

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Ben Pearson, Beyond Recruitment’s Client Solutions Director, was recently contacted by the 1 News programme to comment on the expected “Brain Gain” – the influx of New Zealanders returning home as a result of COVID-19. While some see this as the answer to filling long-standing skill gaps and meeting the needs of sectors that previously relied on skilled migration, it is not clear how the returnees will fit into the job market.

So, is COVID-19 resulting in an influx of skilled candidates from offshore who will, once and for all, address the “war for talent” that has been raging for as many years as we can remember?

As far as we can see, the short answer is “no.” Here at Beyond Recruitment, we deal in the hard-to-fill roles that our clients can’t fill themselves, with Technology/Digital skillsets being our largest area of demand. We have found (at least thus far) that the war for talent will be with us for the foreseeable future.

In the past, we had a reasonable supply of technical/specialist candidates sourced from regions such as India, China and Eastern Europe. Although a challenging process, this was an important channel for us which has since dried up. We have found that Kiwi candidates in places like the UK and the USA do not have the resources to uproot and re-settle in NZ. Many are also biding time until more certainty about the future can be established. This means that our non-Kiwi talent channel has not been replaced with returning New Zealanders.     

Many of the Kiwis who are returning (and also the non-Kiwis escaping to NZ) are very senior executives with significant financial resources. We can see this evidenced in the heat at the high end of the housing market currently. This talent influx is not overly helpful in terms of plugging the skill gaps on the ground, however. These candidates have typically worked in enterprise organisations of a size and scale that does not exist in NZ, performing very senior roles that are rare in our local market. These people are either looking to take lesser roles (about which local employers are likely to be sceptical that the move is a stop-gap), get into “consulting” or start a new business. Although economically helpful, these do not address the skill gaps on the ground.

Ultimately, we can’t see any major relief for New Zealand employers looking to fill specialist skills gaps on the horizon yet. This means there will continue to be hard-to-fill roles for many businesses, but seeking help from a specialist recruitment agency can ensure they secure the best talent available on the market.

Click the link below to watch the full story on demand, which aired on 1 News on Sunday 13 September.

Why the Technology Sector May Miss the “Brain Gain”

For more insights into the current employment market or support with your next recruitment drive, get in touch with our team today.


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