Outrageous Fortune appeared on our TV screens, Peter Jackson’s King Kong premiered, World of Wearable Art moved to the capital and the All Blacks completed a 3–0 whitewash of the touring British and Irish Lions– just some of the events that headlined in Wellington in 2005. Perhaps not so newsworthy then but certainly worth celebrating now was the establishment of The Johnson Group which for the past ten years has been the country’s only public sector recruitment specialist.
The company was the brain-child of Leigh Johnson who from an early age had dreamed of being in business. With a degree from Victoria University that included politics, public policy and social policy, several years’ experience of working for a recruitment consultancy and fired with the ambition and determination to establish and grow a successful and sustainable business, she started The Johnson Group. From the outset, Leigh’s focus was to provide high quality, timely recruitment of professionals from a custom-built talent pool of first-class candidates.
From an embryonic start the business has grown and now employs a staff of nine professionals with offices in the heart of the capital’s CBD. Highly skilled, experienced consultants specialise in recruiting and placing both contracting and permanent staff. They all have a personal interest in their specialist markets, an in-depth knowledge of how the public sector works and know what skills are in demand and where to find them. Over 10 years they have interviewed and placed hundreds of people in permanent and contract positions. And as a significant supplier under the All-of Government recruitment panel, The Johnson Group plays a major role in sourcing hard-to-find talent.
Key to the Group’s success is the knowledge and understanding of its clients’ and candidates’ needs so that it can make the perfect match. “It’s magic when that happens”, says Leigh. “When the skill, attitudes, motivations and career aspirations of the job seeker match the role, you know you will have both a happy manager and employee who tends to stay long term.” Clients acknowledge this and it helps keep the company ahead of its competitors. So does its dedicated talent pool of over 10,000 public policy and public sector management professionals from which two thirds of vacancies are filled. These professionals have wide-ranging knowledge and skills including management, research and evaluation, economic analysis, programme and change management, ministerial and government services, planning and reporting, and communications. Having a finger on the pulse of changes in government direction, keeping one step ahead and on-going networking are key to helping their clients secure good staff.
Anticipating trends, analysing government policy and staying one step ahead is also reflected in what The Johnson Group does outside of its core business. For example, it is proud to have been a partner with Victoria University and Wellington’s Rotary Club in the award winning Skilled Migrant Programme since 2007, helping unemployed and underemployed migrants find their feet in the job market. This programme is recognised nationally for its success brought about by the unique collaborative model created between a small business, a large education provider and an international service organisation.
In 10 years the Group has seen significant changes in the country’s employment and recruitment markets including a change in government, the rapid implementation of new technologies and the move towards smarter working. There are more people in the market and employers are looking for candidates with more and higher level skills. Opportunities for contractors have grown as the public sector drives for greater efficiencies within static budgets. Meanwhile, as the workforce in this sector ages faster than in the private sector, there will be more opportunities for talented, multi-skilled, young professionals.
Change brought about by new technology and the digital market place is unpredictable, as is what will happen to the public sector recruitment market in the next ten years. Whatever the decade brings, The Johnson Group will continue to abide by its service promise to: consult, act with integrity, build relationships, deliver results and demonstrate its ‘why not’ audacious spirit. And, in Leigh’s words, it will remain confident that, ‘The work we do changes people’s lives, raises productivity within organisations and improves outcomes for all New Zealanders’.