Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway outlines immigration changes to address labour market skills shortages with focus on the regions and teachers

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway outlines immigration changes to address labour market skills shortages with focus on the regions and teachers

The Government has announced a series of changes to immigration settings it says will address skills shortages in the country’s regions.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says the changes will see a more regionalised approach to address the skills shortages in each individual region.

“These proposals simplify the number of different visa options, respond to sectoral or regional differences in the labour market, and align the immigration system with the education, skills and welfare systems,” he says.

Under the changes three occupations will be added to the Regional Skill Shortage List (RSSL). They are early childhood, primary school and secondary school teachers.

According to Immigration New Zealand’s website the RSSL identifies the regions with occupations that have an immediate shortage of skilled workers. 

While the Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) identifies occupations where there is a sustained shortage of highly skilled workers throughout New Zealand. It will include aged care nurses.

If a migrant worker is qualified for the job and meets the requirements specified for that occupation, they may be granted either an Essential Skills Work Visa or a LTSSL Work Visa. If they apply for a Work to Residence visa, they can apply for residency after two years.

While the Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List (CISSL) outlines where there are immediate short-term skill shortages in the New Zealand’s construction labour market. If a business is seeking someone in one of the listed occupations a migrant worker may be granted an Essential Skills Work Visa.

New Zealand First immigration spokesperson Clayton Mitchell is welcoming the changes.

“The refinement to make skills shortage lists more regionalised is the first step in addressing our countries immigration woes after nine years of the National Party’s open borders approach,” he says.

“The new listings revealed today by the Immigration Minister demonstrate the kinds of skills we need in specific regions, and encourage the regional dispersion of immigrants to places other than Auckland and the main centres.

“The Government plans to simplify the number of different visa options and ensure that businesses that benefit from the skilled-based visa system are providing opportunities for Kiwi workers.”

An Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) survey of employers released late last year highlighted the difficulties many companies were having finding skilled staff.

It claimed 79% of employers said it was "difficult" or "very difficult" to find skilled staff.

The Immediate Skill Shortage List will be replaced by the Regional Skill Shortage List on May 27.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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26 Comments

There always is and always has been a shortage of naive docile skilled workers. While there are countries which are poorer than NZ there will always be a supply of these workers. While migrants are willing to do jobs that kiwis will not do there will never be an incentive to increase wages or train Kiwis.

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A glaring example: aged care nurses. The attributes needed are caring personality, nursing and medical experience, willingness to work nights and holidays, heavy lifting, cleaning up very unpleasant bodily emissions. It is not a job like chief accountant or HR where if you turn up late for work or take a day off with a hangover your bosses don't care so long as your job is done. So add great work ethic to that list.
Do we pay accordingly? Of course not we just steal aged care nurses from other countries where they are needed. Eventually wealthier countries will absorb all available Filipino care nurses and Kiwis will have to become aged care nurses.
Now is the time to let capitalism function and establish wages appropriate to the job; use immigration to fill the jobs that even a good wage can't fill. We need a political party that looks after workers.

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Accountant as an occupation also features on the immediate skill shortage list and, by extension, may make it to several regional skill shortage lists.

This sham called skill shortage is the new foundation of corporate slavery. Businesses can double down on the economic incentive of migration - save money by choosing not to train locals, then recruit trained migrants at lower pay rates.
How does one explain those thousands of migrants working as admin staff in Auckland - clearly answering phone calls, greeting visitors and fetching them coffee are "essential" skills that Kiwis can't seem to learn.

Agreed. The two-tier society was inevitable, ever since Thatcher/Reagan/Douglas et al. A race to the bottom, so to speak.

It's the same reason the US can't 'become great' again. They can't live on competitively-low wages.

We've been doing it to fishing-boat crews for years, and the offenders are of interesting origin.... (see 'The Catch' - Michael Field).

"trained migrants" spare me.... "How does one explain those thousands of migrants working as admin staff in Auckland"
I'd say ask a Kiwi kid, "I just don't feel that job" "Reception work is not my destiny" "I'm going to do 2 or 3 more courses before I decide my lifes work" etc etc.
"corporate slavery" yeah look at the Chorus model for some clues, they keep it at arms length by getting "Sub contractors" to be the middle man on immigrant exploitation.

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How about a political party to break up Monopolies & Duopolies, that exploit the supplier "businesses". Capitalism has caused this problem allowing large corporates to take control of large percentages of industries in this country.
Your suggesting introduce communism to tell employers what to pay? It's not the employers whom control the revenue, its the large corporate monopolies & duopolies that do, via controlling the work availability.

You are right; monopolies defy the logic of capitalism. The USA broke up Standard Oil a century ago and that belief in competition helped make America great for the first time. I'm a confirmed capitalist - East Germany and North Korea are proof that the alternative is a disaster. However Karl Marx was right about creating things needing (a) capital (b) labour. Our political parties are happy to do what owners of capital ask and what they ask is to keep labour docile. In NZ house prices are bid up and labour bid down by importing from overseas.

The other side of the coin of increasing wages is increasing cost to customers. And i assume that the increase in wages to incentivise Kiwis to do the "undesirable" jobs must be substantial a 10-20% increase is very unlikely to make these jobs a lot more attractive.
So what happens? you stop immigrants, you increase wages significantly and attract local people to do the jobs, you need to increase your prices to sustain the increase wage bill. Now, not as many number of people can afford the cost. That is absolutely fine with things like a restaurant or fast food chain. STOP immigrants in these categories today. But aged care will be simply unaffordable for many if not for the cheap nurses.

True stopping low wage immigration would be as you say (I'm in favour of high wage immigration) and low wages would go up as care homes increase wages until council pen-pushers are tempted to retrain as nurses. So costs for care homes go up but look at the savings made by not building light railways, not building 100,000 kiwibuild homes, not needing new motorways, not needing those extra teachers, my local school wouldn't need those extra classrooms and the local sewer would be adequate if population stopped increasing. There would be billions in govt savings that would easily pay those Kiwi aged care nurses earning doubled wages - and they would be contributing to tax revenue rather than getting WFF.

Maybe a hard sell for a site with so many dedicated property experts since Auckland house prices would lose their main prop.

It would be great to have all that. I would like to see the plan of action for Taranaki as it is forced away from hydrocarbons. If we are able to secure a set of high wage alternatives going well into the post-hydrocarbon phase of the region’s economy, we have some hope for the rest of the nation.

Well according to the regional development fund. Taranaki are moving into tourism...

Low wage, entry level jobs.

The reason why nobody lives in small town NZ is because the wages are too low for a lot of the work there.

These are low wages - https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/112560189/super-liquor-mt-albert-worker...

That is why low paid immigration is evil. It's bad for NZ and bad for low paid New Zealand workers. The policy is made by politicians who just want liquor stores open all hours and booze as cheap as possible. They think it is good for our economy.

It’s why I live in a small (medium) town and work in a city. My combined mortgage rates and insurance are considerably less than it costs to rent locally, let alone in the city. My mortgage was the equivalent of a house deposit in Auckland when I took it out.

I live in a regional town. It's not so much the lower wages that's the issue. It's the lack of other opportunities should your job finish.

A very good point. What INZ forget is immigrants are attracted to cities (an issue identified by sociologists inthe 1920's) - it is where they can meet a few more like themselves. So you can recruit them to the regions but it more likely they will eventually move on than Kiwis with deeper roots in the regional town.

The immigration system is absurd.

The government should not be defining which skills are needed. The market should openly decide.

Employers wanting immigrants for jobs should have to bid for the visas via an online government platform, with the highest bids winning.

Strong legislation would be added to ensure employers do not claw back visa costs from the immigrant workers directly.

The government would set a quota total number of visas to maintain a sustainable immigration rate (maximize gdp/capita growth)

Employers could then weigh up the relative costs of:
a) the visa
b) offering someone in NZ the job with a higher salary to attract them to the job
c) paying to train existing staff to do the job

You are right. Total sense. INZ is doing the same as Russian central planners did.

Note there is a target range for immigration. It used to be 42500 to 47500 approvals per annum but was changed to 33333 to 40000 per annum - in theory they alter the point counts to hit target. Despite the reduction we still lead the world for immigrants per capita. Every problem is solved by adding immigrants; Kiwis living in cars and garages - instant solution just add more foreign builders.

Incidentally your bidding scheme would generate massive revenue for the govt.

I'm always puzzled when I read about the majority of employers struggling to find 'skilled' staff.
When I read job ads (I am looking for a better job atm) most of them specify, regardless of how niche the job is, that they need someone with x years of experience doing precisely that job. They're seemingly unwilling to train someone. I've applied for any number of jobs that I'm absolutely confident I could do without getting even the courtesy of an answer from employers.

In a sense I understand that, because it's a big risk to spend months, weeks or years training someone who could bugger off at any moment. That's the price of having a labour market where there's no trust between employers and employees (who are quite aware that they, likewise, could be booted at any time regardless of their dedicated service). Nonetheless it's very frustrating for someone in my situation. I'm still young, educated, have decent work ethic, and open-minded about what kind of work I do - but you might be amazed how difficult it is to find work nonetheless, at least if you've made the mistake of getting a generalised rather than specific technical qualification.

(d.p.)

One should also toss into the pot, in the Interests of a useful discush, the electoral choices of these new entrants.

Based on the principle of 'Don't Bite the Hand wot Got You In', they tend to a reliable incumbent voting bloc. Docile, too, especially if the precise Way of getting Let In was, shall we say, Dodgy.

Always ask 'Cui Bono?'.......

Is there any comment from the Government about initiatives to train locals in the areas of skill shortages in the regions? If not then it begs the question, have they given up on Kiwi's being able to do the jobs or up-skill to be able to do the jobs? This will make a lie out of at least one of their election platforms.

Noncents comment here about the lack of opportunities is very relevant, as I too see that. One of the initiatives the Government should be looking at is creating opportunities in the regions. Encouraging a supporting business's to set up in small town NZ. Create the opportunities and the skills will come. Bringing in immigrants just kicks the legs out from under Kiwi's.

The new government proposition will bring opportunities back to the regions provided it is not misused by businesses to put a lid on wages instead of fill genuine skill shortages. We have a STEM shortage in NZ, not because we aren't training enough techies but not enough teenagers chose to work in less-glamorous fields like data science outside of city zones.
My company's New Plymouth office actively looked for a comp. science/stats graduate (no exp required) whom we were ready to train and pay reasonably well, but didn't get any interest from candidates who were willing to work outside of Auckland or Wellington (except thousands of engineers based in India). Many good businesses give up the fight and end up moving their operations to big cities.
If these new visas can address such gaps on a regional level, rest assured we could get some high-value businesses moving out of our major hubs and into regions.

Young graduates want to live in the city. A few years later when they are young parents with their children as priority they want to live somewhere like New Plymouth. If we didn't have four children all working in Auckland then my wife an I would cash in our house on full a section in Auckland for a house in or near New Plymouth [ the standard of gardens in Taranaki isprobably the best in the world ~ paradise for a gardener ]. So get your company to advertise for experienced staff not trainees - send a few photos of the houses you can get in Taranaki for half the $1m average Auckland house.

Sounds like the majority of the work should be possible for them to work remotely and only travel to the Naki for bits that do require a physical presence?