Upskilling crucial for Pacific and Māori workforce to navigate ‘tough times’

By Christine Rovoi, PMN

Brian Maposua is the Auckland Branch Manager at Alignz Recruitment and he knows a thing or two about succeeding in a challenging macro-economic environment.

There has been a lot of negative news over the last six months regarding New Zealand’s economy and the job market.

Employment advertisements fell in most industries and regions last month with a large increase in the number of people applying for work.

The latest BNZ Seek employment report shows a nearly five per cent drop in the number of job ads on the Seek website in May and April, which had a similar level of decline.

The number of ads fell more than 30 per cent compared to a year ago to the lowest level in eight years, of course, outside the Covid-19 lockdowns. At the same time, the number of people applying for each position was up nearly 70 per cent on a year ago.

Founded by Lesa and Meta Tyrell, Alignz was established to provide meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities.

Maposua spoke with Pacific Mornings’ William Terite about how our Pacific workforce is navigating these difficult economic times.

“There’s no doubt that it’s tough times,” Maposua told Terite. “People that I know within the industry, they’re finding it tough. Some are struggling. There are companies winding up and some have gone through a lot of restructuring, laying people off. So it is a tough industry.

“So obviously that’s influenced a lot by the companies that are putting in a freeze or minding their cost, trying to survive. So a big cost is obviously work or staffing. So when companies pull back on that, cutting their costs, they don’t require the services of recruitment companies.

“But in saying that, there are pockets of opportunities out there, depending on which industries you’re in and which projects that people are aligned with. So obviously, some have got a bigger piece of the pie and some don’t. So that’s what’s happening at the moment.”

However, Maposua said despite the tough times, there were opportunities out there, “pockets of opportunities in the industry that recruitment companies are involved with”.

He said many companies had invested a lot of money to ensure they laid people off, and some of these employers learnt their lessons from the GFC [global financial crisis which began in 2007].

He said back then, the companies weren’t sure what was happening so they just laid off people, “but then they realised it was difficult to find them [workers] and would bring them back.

“So a lot of companies have learned their lesson and obviously they’re investing a lot of resources in HR and ensuring that their current staff, they’re maintaining them or doing whatever they can to ensure that they avoid laying off staff or laying off or moving on or losing their talent.

“There [are] redundancies going on, but I think a lot of the redundancies [are] very calculated. Just making sure that the real, the key operators or the key staff that they do need, they keep, and then the others they’ve got no choice but to release them.

“I think companies are a little bit more clued up this time around with the tough times in terms of managing the internal staff and avoiding laying off staff.”

Maposua said Māori and Pacific islanders were impacted heavily by this particularly in the construction sector, “due to what they bring to the table.

“They need to be supported and they need to realise that they need to change it up and obviously consider other industries. So that’s the thing that we as a company from our end are striving for is assisting these individuals to realise, you know, yes, times are tough, and it’s just educating them to adjust and click and connect with the opportunities out there.

“For Pacific workers, very limited or they’re only good for a particular thing. How they portray themselves. They need to switch it up, pivot, and change. They need to make an effort to portray themselves as flexible and able to take on other opportunities or pretty much sell themselves as a talent that is flexible and able to adapt to other opportunities rather than one dimension.

“It’s possible and it comes down to the individual. So if you want something, it’s like anything in life, if you want something, it will happen. You just have to be prepared, you’ve got to do the work to make that switch.

“There are employers out there that will give people a chance, and it comes down to attitude. So, if you can show that you’ve got an attitude, you may not have the experience, but you come across as a genuine person and that you’re going to give it 100 per cent, you’re willing to learn, respectful of who’s going to train you and who’s taking you in, then that’s all that matters.”

Maposua said there was an increase in Pacific workers seeking his company’s assistance, with many of them citing redundancies as the main reason.

-This article was first published by PMN.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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