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Avoiding Workplace Skill Shortages through Professional Development

If we look towards New Zealand’s future, one significant trend will have a huge impact on our business environment. That trend is New Zealand’s ageing population.

In business, this will mean that a vast amount of skills, knowledge, and experience built over decades of work will be lost as employees begin to retire. Succession planning and professional development are critical to combatting what could be catastrophic skill shortages within New Zealand businesses.

Succession planning is the practice of finding promising employees within an organisation and developing them into future leaders through education and mentoring.

Professional development is a process that can take place through a conference, seminar, workshop or a course. There are many different training providers across New Zealand who offer a wide variety of learning opportunities for your staff.

When businesses invest in their employees, they equip their staff with the knowledge and skills necessary to grow and improve in their business. However, before an employee starts any sort of training, it’s imperative to identify the training needs of the business first. This will show the gaps between the current training the employees receive and what training is required for the future.

There are three basic training areas that managers should look at:


Knowledge gaps could be in industry-specific knowledge and skills that every employee in the industry should have. An example would be health and safety standards across the construction industry.


Knowledge gaps could be in how to do the job itself.


Knowledge gaps could be related to tasks within an employee’s job. An example would be the need to train customer service representatives on new POS software.

Whilst most of us think of training as being about the technical skills required to actually do the job, upskilling an employee’s soft skills can have huge benefits for your business.

Here are the key soft skills that employers should help their staff develop:

1. Leadership

It is a new world with a new way of thinking. As more Millennials and Gen Z have entered the workforce, they brought with them a new perception of how relationships between employers and employees should be structured.

These employees are looking for more leadership and mentorship from their bosses rather than just direction. When developing future leaders, it is important to know what it means to be a leader in today’s world.

2. Teamwork

The idea of hiring the most qualified person for the job is starting to become an old-fashioned concept. Businesses today care about how well an employee can fit within a team.

Modern successful businesses place a great amount of emphasis on teamwork because when managed well, teamwork maximises the strengths and brings out the best in each team member which results in a better quality of work.

Teamwork is a soft skill that needs to be taught because it is one thing to be part of a team, but quite another to perform as a team member.

3. Innovation

Innovative employees are employees who come up with new ideas and new ways of thinking. Innovative employees have been known to greatly increase business productivity by coming up with better and more efficient ways of doing business.

Companies that promote an innovative environment can also often see an increase in employee motivation and creativity.

4. Communication

One of the most important things in business is being able to effectively communicate your ideas and point of view to others who may have the same knowledge or have different opinions and ideas. Effective communication enables employees to work together toward a common goal.

5. Listening

Listening is a very important skill to have. Beyond simply being good manners, listening ensures that every idea is heard and not discounted.

Filling skill gaps is an important step in ensuring the future success of your workforce. Choosing which skills your employees should work on today will depend heavily on their roles and your industry or sector.