A CO-ORDINATED response to Southland’s people shortage is under way with a labour force team tackling key issues around retention and attraction, Venture Southland business services manager Alistair Adam says.
A labour market assessment, commissioned by Venture Southland in 2014, forecasted shortages of up to 12,000 employees in the next 15 years because of an ageing population and people leaving the workforce.
The Southland Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS) then identified its key goal as attracting 10,000 new people to the region by 2025.
To help achieve this target, Venture Southland has established a four-strong labour force team to help retain young Southlanders and attract domestic and overseas migrants.
Mr Adam said they were working with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) on several aspects of the labour force strategy, with funding contributions from MBIE crucial to the effort.
Venture’s highest priority was putting local people in local jobs, with attracting and retaining skilled migrants next on the list.
The Youth Futures programme, led by Allison Beckham, had been embraced by schools and businesses and could be implemented elsewhere in New Zealand as a model, Mr Adam said.
Ria Bond had taken up a new skills-matching role to ensure the skills of newcomers to the region were best utilised.
This tied in with the welcoming communities adviser, who ensures Southland communities and organisations felt confident in welcoming newcomers. Sue Morrison-Bailey had taken up this role.
Mr Adam said councils had a big role to play in this area and Venture Southland would be proactive around assisting them.
Southland is one of only five regions throughout New Zealand chosen to pilot the Welcoming Communities programme, which will see refugees resettled in Southland.
The final role, labour market co-ordinator, had been taken up by a returning Southlander Kirsten Diack. She oversaw the team, looked into Southland’s future job needs and trends, and advocated on behalf of Southlanders with Immigration NZ, around issues including residency.
“It’s coming together now as our team tackles those crucial roles which will help us grow the region’s population and give us a better idea of the skills which will be needed in the future,” Mr Adam said.