How can we combat the Skills shortage in Canterbury?

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How can we combat the Skills shortage in Canterbury?

We have been hearing a lot from tech business in Canterbury about their challenges with attracting and retaining skilled staff and from students and those looking for mid career transitions into technology

Some of the key problems we heard about are:

  • Small to medium size businesses have been more reluctant to take on interns and junior roles because they were lacking in seniors to train and supervise them. This leads to a reduction in junior and entry level options so its’ hard to tick that “got experience” box and get off to a good start in your career.
  • Intermediates were filling up open senior roles but this was leading to more errors and unproductive time because of lack of experience.
  • Students across the board have a perception that there aren’t options for employment to work in Canterbury and they often report Australia as the best place to find work. There is low visibility of Canterbury businesses as employers and the amazing work opportunities.
  • Students are looking for a concierge-type experience into the job market. If they are unaware of well signposted and curated choices close to home they are likely to choose clear pathways elsewhere.
  • While employers are struggling to find workers, we are also seeing many highly qualified people struggling to find jobs. We have an opportunity to better service the connection between employers and skilled candidates (often from other industries).

Employers haven’t all made the shift to the new normal, but we are seeing success when businesses are adapting by shortening their job advertisements to focus on key skills and responsibilities and being upfront with salary and parttime possibilities, developing clear training paths for employees and reaching out into their community to connect with potential candidates in other ways than job advertisements alone.

Overall we could see there needs to be a shift in the market mindset to look at transferable skills and developing ‘training while working’ opportunities for those with the right work ethic and attitude.

So how do we go about raising the profile of Canterbury tech employers in 2023? Canterbury Tech is working hard to ways to approach the problem.

  • Promotion of our ecosystem map to our student populations – the ecosystem map shows over 400 Canterbury Tech employers and we are now collecting data on open roles from each company. We currently have in develop richer pages for each member business to show off their employer brand and knowledge area.
  • Creating a “100 amazing tech businesses to work in Canterbury” video campaign on Linkedin and Instagram and hosting videos about tech businesses on our members page. If you are interested to be featured in the “100 amazing tech businesses to work in Canterbury” video campaign then please get in touch at
  • Deepening connection with lecturers and course providers looking at additional ways to ensure students are aware of the options.

We know that we need to work on the pool of skilled candidates at a regional level. If we are working together to train and attract staff there will be more awesome candidates in our regional pool.

We know it is hard to take on junior staff or staff looking to make that leap from another career into tech but we would encourage Tech businesses in Canterbury to consider:

  • Offering 2 weeks work experience to increase the pool of entry level opportunities, even if you can’t commit to a full internship. The juniors of today are the seniors of tomorrow. If they leave town before finding a junior role we have a shrinking pool.
  • Forget what’s on paper and actually come meet the candidates in relaxed environments such as PowerUp events encourage women into tech careers and regular monthly meet ups. We’ve had so many successful placements and amazing candidates.

There are changes in the needs of candidates when they are reviewing job advertisement. Gone are the days of a long prescriptive job descriptions. Here are some practical things that HR and recruitment teams can consider to help build our pool of Canterbury Candidates

Here are some practical approaches to changing your job advertisement to widen the appeal:

  • Avoid language in your job advert that is overly specific, such as educational requirements or years of experience, and focus on the skills required for the role.
  • Highlight the duties and responsibilities of the role, rather than the qualifications and experience, so that applicants can see how their skills could be transferred.
  • Offer training and professional development – this can even be paid for by MSD.
  • Emphasise the company culture, values, and mission to attract individuals who align with these, regardless of their background.
  • Include equal opportunity and diversity statements in the advertisement to signal that all applicants are welcome.
  • Be open to part-time and flexible schedules, which can be beneficial to a wider pool of applicants. Say this upfront in your advertisement if you don’t, many won’t ask.
  • Avoid emotive words like rockstar, A-player and look for team work skills.

We have a great community where we are able to really focus in on the key issues to ensure and industry continues to thrive, if you’d like to get involved in the solution please don’t hesitate to get in touch at