So, here we all are, on the other side of the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown and partway into our time at Level 3. How are you all doing?

We feel like it might be a struggle to try to encapsulate everything we’re seeing in the market right now in this report, as there is so much going on and everybody’s situation is just a bit unique, but here goes…

General Comments

From a client point of view, 2020 was a mixed bag pre-COVID; stability and careful consideration in hiring were once again key themes, with very little staff turnover and muted growth levels. It was generally ‘business as usual’, with the market-driven by permanent requirements and a softening of the contract market. Where new contract positions were arising, they tended to be stop-gap measures – short-term gap fillers keeping the seat warm until more permanent solutions could be established. Large projects remained quiet in the Canterbury region, with only a handful of businesses undergoing significant business improvement programmes.

As we saw in the back half of last year, most clients have been keen to ensure they have the right energy going into the right outcomes, and the right people assigned to the right areas. From a retention perspective, we have continued to see the highest numbers in recent years within the Canterbury tech sector, with most recruitment having been achieved through sourcing candidates new to New Zealand or returning home, and placing candidates with new clients who have been affected by redundancy. Unfortunately, even pre-COVID, this did make up a small percentage of our recruitment numbers.


Market conditions

While it has been taking slightly longer for candidates affected by restructuring and redundancies to find new positions, most are now enjoying interesting and challenging work with their new employers. From a contract perspective, it was a quieter-than-average year, with a slight lift in demand since 2019. Primary requirements we have seen in the market have revolved strongly around Business Analysis with very little in the Project and Programme Management space. This really has become an ongoing theme.

Regarding what we are seeing in the market now, things have obviously taken a quick turn. Fortunately, for the majority of our clients, jobs are safe, business as (much as can be) usual continues and work-from-home transitions have been managed well. There have, however, in specific and hard-hit industries, been fairly quick and decisive restructuring activities, which have led to an unprecedented number of candidates looking for new positions. We have also seen a large number of contractors who have been let go early, as internal teams consolidate down to ride out market conditions. We have been working very actively with these candidates coming to market, as we try to get them back to work as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, working with essential services clients, who have actually scaled up permanent recruitment during the lockdown at Alert Level 4, has led to some being picked up quickly. We will continue to monitor this closely, and again work hard for our candidate base to make sure they have every opportunity to re-enter employment ASAP.


Recruitment activity

From a recruitment activity point of view, the majority of our clients outside of essential services have put recruitment on hold until we get to Level 2. There is a lot of uncertainty around how the national and global markets will rebound, and so a ‘wait and see’ approach is the predominant theme.

For our essential services clients, there has been strong demand for Business Analysis, Systems Analysis and Infrastructure Engineering expertise as systems are shored up, new projects ramp up quickly to meet escalating demands and opportunities for innovation are explored. On this, we have had a couple of really great wins for our clients, managing to work between companies who have had immediate workloads drop or have had to downsize, and transitioning their employees across to essential services clients for terms both short and long.

We had two companies offer up permanent staff temporarily to help on the front line supporting COVID-19 testing from a health tech perspective, and candidates within a very hard-hit industry joining one of our essential services clients for 12-month terms with the option to return to their original positions once the market rebounds. It’s definitely been a time where we’ve been able to think outside the square and just get in and help where we can.

Our feeling as we go to Level 3 is that there will be little change from Level 4, and we don’t anticipate a return to previous levels of recruitment until we’re back to Level 2.

We are hearing from our Wellington recruitment partners that there has been a lull in contracting requirements in the capital city, with possible rate drops on the cards. Despite some onboarding challenges, permanent recruitment has continued as usual, with the government a ‘semi-safe place’ for employees and existing contractors. We certainly see this in Christchurch with our government clients here – good stability, the ability to work from home, and projects continuing as usual.


Within Sourced Walls

Having opened our doors on the day of the February 2011 earthquakes, we have always been a business with a huge appreciation for cloud-based working and the ability to work anytime, anywhere. We have transitioned our team to work from home and are enjoying regular Zoom catch-ups. It’s been a really good opportunity to spend some quality time with family around work commitments and on the whole, it’s working well.


Who’s in Demand

Our key demand areas right now are across Mobile and OpenSource (Android/PHP) Development for permanent roles, and Business and Systems Analysis, also permanent. We are seeing very little demand for contract resources, with those recruiting looking at opportunities to reduce contractor cost overheads and replace them with longer-term solutions. We have seen a slight spike in demand for Infrastructure Engineering talent, across both Network and Server Engineering, and at junior, mid and senior levels. Again, these have been permanent or at least 12 months long.


General Round-Up

As we’ve covered, we are seeing a large number of candidates coming into the market, and a large number of clients putting their hiring plans on hold, however, we expect this to come back into balance when we return to Level 2. Fortunately, a lot of our clients rely primarily on the domestic market and their recruitment will resume as soon as face-to-face interviewing becomes easier. We will be working very closely with our candidate base to ensure they have every opportunity for redeployment and continue to look at the various ways in which our clients can engage these talent pools.

We look forward to keeping you abreast with how the year evolves!


In Case You Missed It

Over the last quarter, we’ve written some new blogs. You can find them below:

A Guide to Remote Onboarding
If you have recently hired into your business or need to hire during COVID-19, the chances are you will be onboarding your people remotely, perhaps for the first time. Read our three-step guide on remote onboarding best practices, where we cover the importance of advance planning, a comprehensive schedule and plenty of communication.

Key Tips for Working from Home
COVID-19 has led people to work remotely – some for the first time in their career. If you’re not used to working from home or have only done so ad hoc, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with these top tips to help you make the most of it.

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