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So how are jobs faring during the crisis?

I always try and think of a silver lining out of any negative situation, and the employment market is probably the one of the few aspects of the market that is currently holding up - certainly in our category. Whilst we are certain to have casualties to the world-wide "meltdown", "credit crunch" (or any other euphemism you want to call it...), especially those reliant on the local market, the world-wide shortage of talent will continue, and in fact, those with the proven skills to manage through these situations will be in even greater demand.

In New Zealand we also have the "election factor". This always accompanies the lead-up to any election, but with the outcomes less than certain, this has compounded our economic situation more than usual and has enhanced the "waiting and seeing" for companies.

So what's in demand? Firstly those who have expertise in those "subject matters" that have experienced continued shortages. Technology, engineering, accounting, marketing, supply chain, HR (especially around change management) - in fact most areas that require some form of tertiary qualification. Again, whilst there are regions more affected than others, generally the economic "slowdown" has not been accompanied by a slowdown in the demand for good talent. Talent in any way that maximises revenue output, or minimises cost can only be good.

In the last ten years we have experienced relative economic prosperity. Many of those at the head of companies came to their positions during these times, and it is now that their leadership is tested and under scrutiny - and pressure. Managing during boom times and managing during these times requires a different set of skills and whilst some may adapt, many may struggle and simply not know what to do. So companies have two choices - change guard at the top (which may be less than palatable) or bring in suitably skilled resource alongside management to ensure survival, continuity, and on going success. Extra cost? Sure, but what is the cost of no action.

I am a great advocate of utilising external resource - and in fact essentially pioneered the formal concept here a quarter of a century ago! Oh how time flies! But there are many ways that this can be done to meet your budgetary requirements. The most expensive of course are the big consulting firms and I have my view on their effectiveness around operating in the real world. At the other end of the scale are organisations (many N4P's) that offer mentoring services for free. Again I have a view that if you pay nothing for something, then generally that may be the value you get - but I can be convinced otherwise!

Somewhere in the middle lies the solution. Independent Contractors who you either engage direct, or through an organisation such as ourselves. Most have "been there, done that, got the tee-shirt" relating to the effects of 911, the Asian Crisis in the 90's, the '87 Crash, and other downturns. Many of them are "baby boomers" who thought about retiring, but now will be in even greater demand. These skills sets may be our saviour because inherently and intuitively they should know what to do.

So there is something positive from this latest turn of events. Experts predicted that we were going to have a "desertion" from the ranks of management by retiring baby-boomers over the next 5-10 years. Not so fast - many will stay by choice, by demand, and some by no choice.

So there is a silver lining after all! Or could it be a silk purse?

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