‘Rock star’ economy, ‘green shoots’ across industries with workforce planning required for growth in Wellington

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Strong economic growth in Wellington over the final quarter of 2014 has prompted thought leaders across industry sectors to agree to allocating resources to develop robust workforce planning across both Wellington and New Zealand, to see an even better 2015.

With phenomenal economic growth, Wellington is preparing for a surge in workforce numbers, economic stimulation and heightened productivity in 2015.

At a conference held in Wellington at the beginning of April by ATC Events (Australasian Talent Conference) in conjunction with Kienco, the concept of workforce planning was given the spotlight.

The conference enabled mass exposure and awareness to a vendor neutral audience about the importance of implementing appropriate strategic workforce plans and development, and how Human Resource (HR) professionals were to become the “perfect business partner” as a part of a future-focused growth strategy for organisations in the district.

According to the Aberdeen Group who released the Human Capital Management Trends 2013 Report, 89% of organisations which rank Best-In-Class have strategic workforce planning efforts in place.

The conference was designed to help Australian and New Zealand HR leaders get serious about a framework for developing and delivering workforce strategy, especially at a time where Wellington was forecasting strong growth.

Wellington: the current climate

Economically, Wellington is doing well.  There is continued optimism for 2015 and according to a survey, business confidence is at an all-time high since the recession happened four years ago.

With improved confidence and a strong, innovative tech sector, businesses are looking to take on more staff and continue to grow by carrying out creative business approaches.

According to Grow Wellington chief executive Gerard Quinn, the economic growth in the last quarter and future forecasts had been coined as potentially reaching ‘rock star’ proportions, alluding to the phenomenal success Wellington experienced in the film sector.  Quinn said post-production services such as design, special effects, editing and animation brought in $427m of the area’s economy, with the success also underpinned by IP-related businesses in the area.

“Wellington’s blend of technology and creative talent in a city and region that is well connected and with a great lifestyle, is one that suits the new generation of entrepreneur,” he said.

“Our business growth team has seen green shoots appearing across a range of industries.”

Despite the wave of tech innovation in Wellington, traditional industries are still reaping the benefits of a strong economy and also seeing signs of growth.  According to Statistics New Zealand, retail, accommodation, real estate services and manufacturing all experienced significant growth in the last quarter of 2014.  Opportunities exist to connect tech innovators with traditional industry to deliver higher productivity outcomes across a range of sectors.

Skills shortage a current gap

ANZ Managing Director Retail & Business Banking Fred Ohlsson, said there is increased confidence in reinvesting and taking on new staff after the recovery from the recession, however a survey conducted by ANZ found 1 in 5 people were worried about a shortage in skilled staff in Wellington, even more so than the bureaucracy of red tape.

“Migration and training will be key to ensuring businesses can access the skills they need to deliver on the opportunities presented by ongoing economic tailwinds,” said Ohlsson.

Quinn said Wellington had a concentration of IT in both the government and technology sectors that needed skilled staff.

“It’s not just technically skilled staff, it’s the people who support those – marketing professionals, planning professionals who understand technology businesses or digital sectors,” he said.

“We do have a need to get some of those wider-skilled people into the region.”

Suggested workforce planning strategies for Wellington, 2015

-Foster creativity and innovation through collaborative approaches such as introducing co-working spaces for tech entrepreneurs, cross pollination between industry sectors.

– Introduce tech solutions and innovation-strong talent to traditional sectors such as manufacturing and retail to increase productivity outcomes and improve overall operational efficiency.

– Strengthen communication between Government and small businesses to come up with solutions to reducing red-tape- enabling small businesses to employ more people with confidence.

– Source globally recognised international IT talent and market the Wellington lifestyle to entice more tech-based entrepreneurs to the space to support the growing film post-production sector. This will draw more attention to local digital companies- positioning Wellington to be recognised as a global leader in post-production services.

-Source ‘cream of the crop’ global talent to deliver training programs in tech, innovation, post-production skills, and manufacturing and retail trends.

Workforce BluePrint are leaders in connecting innovative entrepreneurs and young, dynamic tech talent with industries, paired with an in-depth knowledge of workforce planning and development centred around district or regional growth.

For a consultation or a chat about how Workforce BluePrint can assist in your region or business’ innovation and growth plan, contact Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner at wendy@wb.switchstartscale.com.au.

April 2015.

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