Sunday, June 20, 2021
Times of Georgia
HomePoliticalImmigration ‘reset’ Makes No Sense To Industry Experts

Immigration ‘reset’ Makes No Sense To Industry Experts


Announcements last week by Minister Stuart Nash about an
immigration ‘reset’ make no sense to professionals
working in the sector, says June Ranson, chairman of NZAMI
The New Zealand Association for
Migration and Investment (NZAMI)
.

“The
announcements referred to the Government moving to a reset
within the immigration space and were lacking substance and
any depth with absolutely no detail given out on many
incumbent issues.

“The skilled migrant category
remains closed and a mystery for over a year, now leaving
thousands who met the requirements and applied for visas, in
limbo. Many thousands, who New Zealand invited to fill roles
that cannot be filled by New Zealanders, with skills that
are essential to NZ needs, are now left with no certainty
about their futures,” she points out.

She says the
government has indicated that it intends to move away from
what they refer to as ‘low skill’ migrant labour in NZ.
This is to make way for more New Zealanders to be employed,
upskilled and trained.

“These policies and
apprenticeships are not new, most of these opportunities
pre-exist Covid, and therefore the preferred outcomes are
unrealistic.

“Industries like primary, healthcare,
construction, trades and hospitality are among the key
sectors relying on various levels of migrant labour. In
these cohorts, employers continue to be unable to fill the
gaps due to unavailability of New Zealand labour. The
problem remains that the NZ local work force is not applying
for these vacancies,” says Ms Ranson.

“The
argument that the pay is too low is incorrect. Remember that
a temporary work visa can only be issued if no suitable New
Zealanders are available, and skilled migrant residence
category is by invitation only.

“The government is
asking NZ businesses to be innovative and creative on how
jobs are structured so it becomes more attractive to New
Zealanders. While this may be possible for a handful of
roles, most employers are doing this already, and yet they
are no better off.

“While talent can be home grown
and developed, training to an appropriate level takes a few
years and NZ applications are not forthcoming in the numbers
needed to support our economy. And what will be the support
for these employers in the interim, remains
unknown.”

NZAMI is concerned around how the
government defines ‘low skill’ migrants who are
undervalued for the work they do, but work in areas that are
traditionally low paid. The areas of grave skill shortages
are well documented – truck drivers, crane operators, aged
care workers, agriculture workers, and so on. To bring about
monetary change cannot happen overnight without dire
consequences.

“Already, the existing policy was
geared to “low skilled” migrants either having to depart NZ
after a certain period or struggle to renew their work
visas. But this still has not solved the problem of skills
lost.

“The minister has also indicated temporary
work visa reforms are designed to give more flexibility to
migrants filling highly skilled roles. The SMC (Skilled
Migrant Category) caters for residence pathways for skilled
migrants only that either fall into ANZSCO (Australia NZ
Standard Classification of Occupations) skill levels 1, 2 or
3 or are paid one and half times above the median
wage.

“The so called ‘low skill’ workers don’t
qualify for residence anyway.”

Ms Ranson says the
speech refers to NZ having the highest number of temporary
migrant workers in the OECD. This is the case when residence
applications are not moving with an NZRP quota set since
before Covid19, so migrants have no choice but to
continually extend their temporary visas.

“At a time
when NZ is looking attractive to the world due to being
community Covid-free, the migrants who have worked hard come
here and fill those skills that NZ critically needs –
doctors, nurses, engineers, technicians, trades
professionals etc – now can’t apply for residence and
have remained on a standby for over a year.

“The
world will be opening up and NZ will be competing globally
for skills – it does not make sense to not capture the
migrants we already have in NZ rather than the
Government’s approach to make it too difficult for them to
stay.”

NZAMI invites the Government to consult with
NZAMI as we are the professional
practitioners.

© Scoop Media

 



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