Migrants hoped to better plug regional and sector skills shortages under proposed changes to employer-assisted temporary work visas

Migrants hoped to better plug regional and sector skills shortages under proposed changes to employer-assisted temporary work visas
Iain Lees-Galloway by Jacky Carpenter.

The Government is proposing a set of changes to employer-assisted temporary work visas to ensure migrants better plug regional and sector skills shortages.

It is consulting on:

- Introducing a new framework for all employer-assisted temporary work visas which will be employer-led, rather than migrant-led, and will simplify the system by reducing the number of application pathways into one enhanced framework.

- Replacing the Essential Skills in Demand Lists with Regional Skills Shortage Lists to better reflect the skill shortages that exist in the regions and provide a stronger signal to temporary migrants of opportunities in regional areas.

- Introducing sector agreements to ensure longer-term structural issues are addressed, so that sectors or industries do not become reliant on migrant labour, at the risk of shutting out opportunities to New Zealanders.

- Improving alignment of the immigration, welfare, and education systems to improve how we work together to increase the employment of New Zealanders and deliver better labour market outcomes for New Zealand.

Migrants can generally get an employer-assisted temporary work visa if an employer can show through labour market tests that there are no suitable New Zealanders available to do the work.

Around 20% (or 47,000) of the 230,000 temporary work visas issued in 2017/18 were employer-assisted.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says the current system is complex, includes a number of different visa options and does not respond sufficiently to sectoral or regional differences in the labour market.

“There are also too few checks and balances on employers hiring migrants, resulting in some employers with poor track records still being able to access migrant labour,” it says.

“Signals from the immigration system, for example the inclusion of an occupation on a skills shortage list or growth in temporary work visas for an occupation, generally do not trigger corresponding responses from the domestic labour market (such as by employers/industry and the compulsory education, tertiary education, welfare and employment systems).”

MBIE says the framework would initially require more upfront investment for most employers however this is balanced with longer-term ease and certainty.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, in a Cabinet paper, says:  "I expect these proposals to place some downward pressure on the number of employer-assisted temporary work visa applications over time and result in a shift in balance towards higher-skilled occupations.

"However, despite the downward pressure, there may still be some growth in employer-assisted temporary work applications, albeit at a slower pace, particularly if the economy remains strong and demand for labour high (noting that as at November 2018 the unemployment rate is 3.9% and the employment rate is at a historic high of 68.3%).

"Annual net migration to New Zealand is forecast to decline, reaching 57,000 in the September 2020 year, just after the point at which the proposed increase in the refugee quota will take effect."

Lees-Galloway says the proposed changes represent a “significant shift” in how New Zealand's immigration system operates.

“It is clear that the untargeted one-size-fits-all approach by the previous Government has been failing our regions and industries with acute needs for labour, while loading enormous pressure on Auckland’s infrastructure.”

The public has until March 18 to submit on a consultation document.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


"“It is clear that the untargeted one-size-fits-all approach by the previous Government has been failing our regions and industries with acute needs for labour, while loading enormous pressure on Auckland’s infrastructure.”

clear indication further pressure to be taken off Auckland... a sure reversal of what happened in the last 9 years...

Agreed. Employer (aka skills) led v.s. immigration bypass via education training.


Business Entrepreneur's aka "2 Dollar Shop" Store Managers with 10 houses.

"Annual net migration to New Zealand is forecast to decline, reaching 57,000 in the September 2020 year”.

Really!! – this reduction in immigration is one very slow boat.

Good news is that the proposed changes make a lot more sense than the current nonsense – pity it’s taken a year to get this far with the proposal and then the subsequent consultation process and ultimate implementation still some way off.

And that's only because more people are leaving - there is no plan to reduce the number coming in.

Sounds like Auckland currently– more people leaving because there’s no plan to reduce the number coming in.

Seems like a lot of hard work.. cant I just get my wife to write a letter and say my life is in danger if I go home?

Have you not completed your chores?

What a joke. Doesnt even touch the sides of the issue. We will still have employers lobbying the powers that be, and much higher immigration than we actually need. Let the price (wage) determine a solution to shortages and the whole of NZ will be better off...

It appears there is a small group of 10000 workers rolling over their temporary work visas who will have to leave the country for a year after 3 years as part of the new plan.
That will be mostly Auckland taxi drivers I guess.

and chefs....

noticing the impact already, an indian takeaway in henderson is struggling to find a 'student' chef (low wages)..

It will be in the interests of the ethnic hospitality employers to bunch together and form a “sector” under the new proposals.
They can then show there are “regional shortages”

The root of the problem is this. From Newsroom. The latest quarterly employment survey, showed private sector ordinary time average hourly earnings rose 1.4 percent to $29.38 in the September quarter and were 3.6 percent higher than a year earlier. Public sector ordinary time wages rose 0.7 percent to $39.31 in the September quarter and lifted 1.6 percent on the year.
So you can go and work as a bureaucrat with a job title that was created in a random word generator for a strict 40hr week and 80+ K per year. Or earn less and work more in the real economy. No wonder Wellington property prices are rising while everywhere else is falling.

Wellington is a ponzi scheme underwritten by the productive parts of the economy.

The critical difference between the Private Sector and Public Sector is whose money is being spent. I think that's why you'll find there's such a wage difference.

Or is it simply the fact that the public service scope of work doesn't cover as wide a gamut of jobs. There are no production line workers, fast food workers, bus drivers, none/very few cleaners etc. And far more (in percentage terms) employees with post grad degrees and management level jobs?

Need to compare the pay for equivalent jobs in both sectors before jumping to conclusions

That's a pragmatic angle. But do we really need a giant make work scheme for people with triple digit IQ's? Or should we try and deploy that resource in the real economy to make money. Rather than use it to spend our taxes and rates on.

Its not a makework scheme. We need (yes, need) government that makes and enforces good policy/laws. I'd rather have the smart ones making the policy/advising those that make the policy, rather than having the dumb ones setting policy and the smart ones driving buses through the resulting loopholes and trying to find ways to screw the general public for their self betterment.

Whether we have that is a whole 'nother story...

Funny, what we have is the other way round, the scam artists designing dept policies and the bus drivers who know more about their network than those managing and designing it.

I think it's depressing that people think 80k in wellington is a good salary.

There is a big labour shortage and business is crying out for help. How on earth will these new hopes get built?

I'm getting a fed up with the namby pamby politics.

Still waiting for that 10,000 a year thing from the election, Winston.

If I was an Indian & I had a chance to get out of India I'd grab it with 2 hands & 2 feet.
An interesting stat from the South China Morning Post yesterday, that 6% of Chinese have been issued with passports. Yep, that's 6% of 1.3 billion, & that they are currently issuing passports at 10 million pa in 2018.
Do we really understand the implications of these numbers might mean to our future? No, I don't think it's sunk in yet. My issue is that my future is not my future, it is their future.

Too much tinkering. Did they commission a working group to come up with this stuff? Shut the door. Fake students send them back.

Er, what about an auction. Issues a fixed number of visas and have regular auctions. It is how we ration resources, so why not this one?

Why do the silly buggers favour complex bureaucratic schemes that "generally do not trigger corresponding responses from the domestic labour market"?

The Universities, PTEs & Polytechs are already planning to get around the new student visa/graduate work visa rules by inventing schemes, new Masters degrees, cross credit arrangements, etc which will ‘get around’ the new policies.
So more unskilled arrivals/graduates/work visa holders populating petrol stations & takeaways via the international student system.

Why else would the government be bailing out the Polytechs? Just have to keep them on life support long enough so they can take the flood that will come. From what I can see they will have sole discretion re cross-crediting from overseas tertiary institutes. Do 36 weeks study in NZ for the final year of your Bachelor of Bullshit and boom shanka you have a 3 year open work visa and a pretty much-guaranteed path to residence.Of course the government will say they never saw it coming. But they know the door needs to stay open so they can feed the property beast. So close one and open another one even wider.

So NZ degrees which are supposedly approved by NZQA under much furore and QA audits etc and taught by staff aiming to prepare real students for real industry, will be given away (two thirds or so) to applicants from the ZYX Institute of Rote in order to collect international fees and give away 3 year work visas?
Wouldn’t it be better for NZ to fund its tertiary education and run authentic programmes for NZ students? Rather than undermine NZ education.

You would think so but advanced level retail, or restaurant management courses that don't even require adequate evaluation or skills, nor experience and training in those industries already shows they already have drunk the coolaid and cashed the money given to them.

This Minister lurches from one crisis to the next .

I dont understand the mechanics of just how this is going to work , let alone how its going to help businesses find staff for lower-paid jobs .

It looks to me like the proposal solves nothing , it simply puts the cart before the horse , and adds another year to the process of finding teachers, nurses, builders , panelbeaters, mechanics , drivers , technicians , electricians , cooks , cleaners , and aged care staff , to list just a few .

We dont have to worry about Doctors, Accountants , Lawyers or Engineers , which have the skills to get high-paying jobs anywhere on the planet , and can apply themselves without the rigmarole of going through this new process .

“teachers, nurses, builders , panelbeaters, mechanics , drivers , technicians , electricians , cooks , cleaners , and aged care staff , to list just a few”

In my day we had all these good people – without mass immigration, as far as I knew anyway.

So just what the heck happened, and why??

Oh great – so mass cheap immigration is a government bailout of sorts – a low value labour component stabilisation package.

Lucky us – nice work!!

low low pay, zero hour style contracts etc, the aged care staff literally had to go to court to get a basic minor wage rise in a decade for skilled work. The pay is still so bad they would earn more often answering a phone at a call centre (unskilled) or often even shifting to other health sectors & overseas. Most students get better pay in many jobs, and often get dedicated hours.

Have you been to Japan recently? There's very few immigrants there to do the jobs japanese don't want to do so. So there are no taxis, convenience stores, cheap restaurants or cleaners in the entire country. It really is a mess.

I'm still waiting for $20hr minimum wages, that will fix everything.

Are you the person wondering why you can't find enough temporary labourers to hire?

NZs population was 3.3M in 1992 its now 4.8M as of 2018, the increase in population is 1.5M which is close to 50% of its base total in 1992. The average fertility of a NZ women over that period has been 2 or slightly less than 2 so this means that a 50% population increase has resulted from immigration in a period of around 25 years. In 2017 less than 20% of immigrants coming into NZ were coming from first world countries. 80% of new immigrants in NZ came from third world countries. Government policy settings mean New Zealand's first world population is being systematically replaced by a third world population of immigrants.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I constantly see immigrants of other cultures doing things their own way; Separate suburbs, schools, businesses and religious institutions and hiring their own people. It's obvious that the average kiwi will lose out on their own resources due to this nepotism.

Western countries need to be for western people. Nobody would ever suggest it's racist for Japan to keep it's identity so why should we keep the doors open? ..especially for zero economic benefit.

The bible is very clear on this subject
Proverbs 13:22: “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”
These people are not the childrens children of those that have built our electricity infrastructure and our water supply infrastructure. Electricity sector reports are very clear that NZ does not have the electricity infrastructural resources to support the population growth and the population will suffer electricity shortages in 5 years time.

If we have a third world population we will end up with a third world standard of living!

Not true - the dirt in New Zealand is magical

One cherry pack house had 4000, yes, that's not a typo, applicants for their cherry season packing and picking vacancies this season. Vast majority were backpackers.