Labour market gaps: Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce

Much has been said in recent years about New Zealand’s constrained labour market.

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, Chief Executive Leeann Watson

The conversation has centred on immigration settings, described on a spectrum from being unfit-for-purpose at the light end, to actively obstructive at the other.

Industries are adapting through digitisation and automation, but there is also a real need to better set up our own school leavers to plug workforce gaps now and in the future.

The impacts of a rigid education system, its failure to keep pace with evolving economic and social needs, and the rapid advancement of technology is contributing to an employability gap that has left us over-reliant on immigration.

The rapid advancement of technologies such as ChatGPT, and the increasing demand for skilled workers require a more flexible, adaptive approach to education. Educators must understand that traditional industries, such as manufacturing and the primary sectors, are very different today, providing significant opportunities for well-equipped school leavers.

We need increased collaboration between businesses, the education system, and students, and to develop a talent pipeline and career opportunities that may not have otherwise been known about. A partnership approach might also bridge a gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, fostering work-ready school leavers and graduates in careers that will keep our economy competitive into the future.

The flow-on effect is that the next generation of workers will enjoy more diverse, successful careers and better contribute to our country’s long-term economic growth and community outcomes, making us less dependent on our immigration settings.

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