An interesting e-mail came in the other day which raised the eyebrows a little. It was from Immigration New Zealand and provided links to the Labour Market Oversupply and Undersupply lists.
The covering information included the following clause which helps to set the scene somewhat.
From 16 April 2021, Immigration New Zealand will use the updated lists to assess Essential Skills work visa applications that are paid below the median wage (currently $25.50 an hour) regardless of the date the application was submitted.
Given the discussions through media and elsewhere I thought I knew what I was going to find as shortages in the primary sector, particularly in Horticulture have been well documented. Although, at the back of my mind was the debacle of the risks of earthworm farming some years ago. (ACC update 2015).
The list is compiled by regions, so, my first look was at the Canterbury region (only a little parochial) Oversupply List. Apparently, there is an oversupply of everything from bakers to hospitality to construction workers.
Included in the Oversupply List are also Fruit and Vegetable factory workers and Dairy Products makers.
At this point I went to the Undersupply List to see if there was a category which may have more resembled Orchard and Vineyard workers etc. So, there it shows a shortage of Agricultural and Horticultural Plant operators and wine makers but still nothing directed at the field work although dairy farm workers made the cut here as did beef farmers.
Another anomaly focusing on Canterbury was, while the list in hospitality, processing and construction Oversupply was considerable there was a special mention of the MacKenzie Region which for all these skills is apparently undersupplied. Most will know the MacKenzie region as a beautiful part of the country of which a large proportion is made up of the Mt Cook National Park and extensive views. As a percentage of its total population, I can imagine hospitality makes up a large portion of the work force. But Sugar Mill workers? Fruit and Vegetable processors? Product Assemblers? Just to name a few.
It is not as though there are other regions within the province that get mentioned, just the MacKenzie District.
It is also perhaps worth mentioning that the population of Mackenzie District is a tad over 5,000. It seems that someone in the Ministry of Social Development (oversees the Immigration Department) either has a soft spot for the region, has been got at, which is unlikely, or has no idea of New Zealand geography and demographics. This last one would be my punt.
Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay will be relieved to know that in their regions (plus others so there are obviously plenty to draw upon) also are Oversupplied with Vegetable and Fruit Factory workers. Bay of Plenty did record a shortage of Horticultural Plant Operators. My first thought was that perhaps field workers etc are paid at a rate too low to warrant mentioning their demand however, as the opening paragraph shows the demand (and supply) is for wages paid below the median hourly rate of $25.50. This also got me confused as the list included occupations such as engineers, farm managers and aircraft refuellers, occupations that I imagine earn more than $25.50 per hour.
I also found that in the Otago section Vineyard workers were included as being in Undersupply. So, it is not as though the categories for such work do not exist (which was another passing thought).
What does concern me if this is the standard of information that is being provided to the Government or Immigration NZ to make decisions on who it should let into the country, then it is no wonder some of the primary sectors and others are having trouble getting themselves heard. On a positive note, I always enjoy a ‘good joke' and the list did provide a light-hearted moment in the day.