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Several recent conversations have brought to my attention that our friends in the Wellington recruitment sector are feeling a little bit down in the dumps. Heavily reliant on Government recruitment work, our new Prime Minister has come along and torpedoed a bunch of policies and projects, massively reducing spend on Contractors and generally derailing the sweet, sweet gravy train so beloved of our Capital’s snazzy-suited recruiter brethren.

It’s election year too, which always sows seeds of uncertainty amongst the public sector.  Add to that the fear of looming recession, banking balls ups in America, banking bewilderment in Switzerland and the Reserve Bank hiking interest rates with giddy excitement, and it appears to be a sh1t-storm in a Wellington teacup right now.

To top it all off, after several grueling months of self-flagellation pitching to MBIE for a coveted place on the next-gen AOG recruitment contract, everyone who tendered has been asked to submit feedback on the procurement process so far.  Given that contract awards aren’t being announced until late May, quite how honest MBIE are expecting the feedback to be does make me wonder.  Or maybe they daren’t hear the truth… 🤔

So, since it’s a sunny Friday (I’m writing this on a Thursday, so this is wishful thinking as an Aucklander), I thought I’d share some reasons for optimism in amongst the doom ‘n gloom:

Unemployment is still only 3.4%.  This is really low.  Like really hard to find good staff low.  This was an increase of 0.1% from the previous Quarter, but in fact the unemployment rate for women got better.  Companies will still need help finding good staff to keep growing.

Our banking sector is safe.  It is incredibly unlikely that any of the Aussie and NZ banks will fail, like we are seeing elsewhere. We operate a different model that is less exposed to risk. Even if business confidence gets knocked slightly, a reliable banking sector will keep more severe angst well away.

Shallow recession. OK we’re probably in a recession right now.  But that won’t be confirmed for another 3 months when Stats NZ release this quarter’s GDP figures. Most commentators think we will experience negative growth through into early 2024, which means that by the time recession is confirmed we will already be half the way through it anyway. Plus it is tipped to be far shallower than the 2008 GFC recession too.

Change is as good as a rest. If you do get made redundant from your recruitment job, it’s likely the firm you were working for wasn’t the most strategically-robust of employers anyway.  Sure, it hurts, but it’s also an opportunity for something new, and in the long run, something probably much better.

New Zealand is beautiful. Ultimately, if everything does go to crap, at least you live in New Zealand. Sure, it can be a bit backward, frustrating and boring at times, but it is safe, it is fair, and it is beautiful. The rest of the world might go to the dogs, but we still have nice beaches to sit on and forests to explore.

That’s it from me.  I’m off to drink a glass half full of delicious NZ craft beer soon.  Your usual demagogue Sean Walters will be back on the whiteboard pens next week again.  He is also going to be speaking on a panel of recruiters at the next #WellyRecMeetup at Troy Hammond‘s Talent Army HQ on 13th April, so if you want to hear his unique takes on reasons for optimism, get yourself along and RSVP here.


Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.