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Seeking a solution to the labour shortage


New part-time roles aimed at attracting parents with school-aged children are being trialled at the JNL mill in Masterton. PHOTO/FILE


The nationwide staffing shortage is causing headaches for businesses across all industries, and a new trial is underway in Wairarapa to help plug the gap.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association revealed in its survey results released on Tuesday that the staff shortage was having a tough effect on business across New Zealand.

Of the businesses that responded to the survey, 100 per cent of employers said they were struggling to fill vacancies, with almost 40 per cent advertising for more than six months.

The survey received responses from businesses in more than 50 sectors and industries, including manufacturing, transport, and health.

JNL’s Wairarapa mill in Masterton was expecting to begin a trial to bring in more staff on unconventional part-time contracts.

The project involved JNL partnering with the Ministry of Social Development [MSD].

Wairarapa mill general manager Karl Burling said the project hoped to attract workers who wanted to work but could not fit in with traditional working schedules.

“Speaking with MSD, they seem to believe there are a number of people who want to work but are unable to.

“The biggest challenge is children – school holidays and working between school hours.

Burling said drawing up the contracts had been challenging but was glad to see it going ahead.

“We’ve had a very positive response from staff and from the community.

“Unless you think differently about employment, nothing is going to change. People who want to work but can’t now have an option.”

Burling said depending on the success in Wairarapa, the initiative could be rolled out nationwide.

Manager client service delivery at MSD Shannon Meynell said the flexible structure would allow people to transition into employment.

“Our Wairarapa Work and Income team met with JNL to discuss how we could work together to support our clients who cannot work standard hours, primarily with a focus on sole parents.

“JNL were very keen to come on board with this initiative. They created 9am to 3pm shifts with the ability for people to take time off for school holidays to support our clients into employment.

“We’re really excited that JNL have responded with flexibility to enable employment.”

Meynell said MSD was hoping to work with other businesses in the region to widen the scope of the trial

“We hope other employers see what JNL are doing and how well it is working and encourage them to work with us in finding staff and offering similar work arrangements.”

George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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