Employment trends to watch in 2016

Dave Rees

Looking for that elusive dream job or hoping to boost your business by hiring a superstar? Here are some of the emerging trends that are shaping the job market and recruitment industry in 2016:

1. The return of the expats
As many as one in five New Zealanders live overseas but with Europe’s economy struggling and Australia’s mining sector experiencing a slow-down, a growing number of Kiwis are either returning home or not leaving in the first place. There is now a small net inflow from Australia to New Zealand and we could see a similar reversal with other countries Kiwis traditionally move to.

This trend has significant implications for the job market in 2016, but the effects will vary between industries. Many of the Kiwis returning home had been working in the Australian mining sector, whereas post-GFC there was a similar exodus of Kiwis working in finance in London. Unless the skills of those returning closely matches their requirements, businesses that pin their hopes on returning expats plugging skill gaps may be left disappointed.

2. Innovation in recruitment (and retention)
Job websites and social media tools such as LinkedIn are putting pressure on mainstream recruitment firms by making it easier for employers to do ‘DIY recruiting’. To stay relevant, recruiters need to show where they can add value and find quality candidates missed by the DIY approach.

As employers get more tech-savvy, candidates are doing the same. A great LinkedIn profile is now as important as a great CV, if not more so. However, the best candidates are often hard to find because they are not actively looking for new work. Good businesses are becoming more sophisticated in how they look after their top employees.

3. Compliance: a growth industry
When children are asked what they want to be when they grow up, some will say ‘astronaut’ while others might want to be doctors, teachers or even All Blacks. It is unlikely they will say ‘compliance officer’, but parents may want to start steering their young ones in this direction because the career prospects are excellent.

In several industries, increasing regulation is forcing businesses to devote greater resources to ensuring all the right boxes are ticked. Compliance is a particularly big issue in the finance industry, where several rounds of new regulations have been introduced across the sector in the past few years. As the regulations bed in, some firms are discovering they under-estimated the resourcing required.

4. Technology destroying and creating jobs
For centuries technology has been replacing jobs and creating new ones. A century ago the automobile put horse and carriage drivers out of work, while today many jobs are becoming obsolete due to automation. Boston Consulting Group has predicted up to a quarter of jobs will be replaced by robots or advanced software by 2025.

However, technology is also creating new job types. For instance, in large organisations it's not uncommon to have entire teams dedicated to social media. Finding the right candidates for jobs that have only just been invented is a challenge for employers and recruiters. Workers need to be flexible and be prepared to up-skill if their job gets taken over by machines.

5. The ageing workforce
Much has been said about the impact of New Zealand’s ageing population on superannuation and healthcare, but it also means significant changes for the workforce. Although the growing number of retirees will likely exacerbate skill shortages, this may be offset by older people choosing to keep working for longer.

Workers aged over 55 often have useful skills and experience but businesses do not always appreciate their value. As New Zealand gets older, they will have no choice but to hire older workers and look after those already on their team.


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