As New Zealand’s new Labour Government settles into its role after last year’s tight election race, prospects for candidates in the public sector are looking up. The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows a lift in opportunities and experts say the sector presents many ways to align personal values with workplace goals.
Opportunities on SEEK for Government and Defence increased by 23% year-on-year in January and the average an advertised salary was $83,431.
Ben Pearson, General Manager – Wellington at Beyond Recruitment, is seeing growing demand across a range of government areas. He describes many of the roles as ‘business as usual’ vacancies that were put on hold during the election months. “It is a fairly predictable cycle of the sector pausing during the election phase as uncertainty prevailed,” he says. “They’re now being actioned simultaneously as the government direction is clearer. On top of that, there are some fast-track policy changes occurring that have created a range of new opportunities, particularly in contracting.”
Driving a new direction
A change of Government always heralds a new direction in policy and Shane Mackay, General Manager, Wellington, at OCG Consulting Limited says there’s an increasing demand for candidates with policy and planning experience. “Government is looking for candidates who can bring strategic thinking to policy roles,” he says.
Many candidates dream of a job that aligns closely with their personal values and passions and the public sector provides many opportunities for this.
This growth in demand is also reflected in the latest SEEK data, which shows a 51% year-on-year lift in job ads for policy, planning and regulation over the three-month period from November to January.
Getting wild at work
Many candidates dream of a job that aligns closely with their personal values and passions and the public sector provides many opportunities for this. The Department of Conservation (DOC) is a great example. The government agency is charged with conserving New Zealand’s world-renowned natural and historic heritage and Nicki Fuller, Senior Advisor Human Resources at DOC, says this an attractive proposition for candidates.
“DOC enables candidates to align their work with their passion,” says Fuller. “This is a growing expectation for candidates, especially from the Millennial generation. We are seeing more candidates with a desire to work somewhere that shares their own personal values.”
DOC employs approximate 2,300 people across New Zealand including in some of the country’s most remote locations. “Luckily, we have a beautiful country to conserve and we play on that,” says Fuller. “A third of New Zealand is conservation land. We have an attractive brand that’s very trusted. Brand goes a long way for us, but not all the way.”
As turnover at DOC is quite low, Fuller says traditional career progression can be challenging, however the department works to provide other career opportunities.
“We can’t always provide a linear path, so sometimes the opportunities are presented from other parts of the department and this allows people to develop a broader range of skills.”
Candidates with a passion for achieving better results for women and wider New Zealand, may find appealing job opportunities in government agencies such Ministry of Women.
Jessica Mooney, Principal HR Advisor at Ministry for Women, explains that selection decisions at the Ministry are generally based on its ‘People Plan’.
“This is our strategy for how we select, develop and motivate our most valuable asset – our people,” says Mooney. “We need staff to be agile in the way they work so that we can quickly respond to changes in our environment. We also look for candidates that fit with our ‘one-Ministry’ culture, which means collaborating across the whole Ministry and taking collective ownership of the Ministry’s strategic priorities and outcomes.”
In addition to these skills, the Ministry of Women also look for candidates with a set of core competencies. “These include political nous to understand and navigate political issues, communication skills and relationship management skills,” says Mooney. “We are part of a bigger system and we rely on others to achieve our outcomes so the ability to influence others is also a really important competency for our staff.”
Public sector appeal
Collaboration skills are in strong demand across the public sector to help foster strong cross-department relationships.
“The ability to forge relationships is just as important as technical skills,” says Fuller. “We need people who can work well with others.”
Pearson says business acumen is also a highly desirable quality. “We are seeing more and more demand for candidates to present as commercially savvy as the public sector transforms itself digitally and generally undergoes quite far-reaching change,” he says. “Public sector experience is still important but there is a lot of interest in talent from high-change private sector areas, such as financial services, general management, digital technology and professional services.”
With opportunities in the public sector on the rise, there are more ways for candidates to combine their work and their passion, whether that’s improving outcomes for New Zealand women or the country’s world-renowned wildlife.
The Ministry provides policy advice on improving outcomes for women across the country and Mooney says attracting the best talent starts with having well-defined job roles. “We ensure we have a really clear understanding of what we expect from the role we are recruiting for and this in turn ensures we target the right market and get the best person for the role,” she says.
New Zealand’s public sector provides many opportunities to bring your work and passion together. Your prospects on SEEK were looking up in January, so now may be the time to explore your options in this dynamic and diverse industry.