Immigration Policy Adjustments Helpful for Manufacturers

27 July 2017

Today’s announcement of adjustments to the proposed changes in the Essential Skills visa are welcome news to manufacturers who continue to face skill shortages  that hold back their businesses from expanding, say the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association (NZMEA).

NZMEA Chief Executive, Dieter Adam said, “Despite these changes appearing to be coming from pressure largely from low-wage and primary areas of the economy, they do address some concerns manufacturers had.

“With the adjustments to the medium skilled salary threshold, the majority of skill shortages felt in the manufacturing industry will now be covered as medium skilled.  This will help alleviate some of the perceived issues with the previous proposals, especially the 12 month stand down period after 3 years in the low skilled category. 

“Some issues still remain, such as how setting one rate for all parts of the economy will affect the regions. 

“While immigration continues to be discussed, we need to keep in mind the core need to create a system where we get the right type of skilled immigration into New Zealand. We need to address the skill shortages that hold our manufacturers and productive businesses back from expanding and contributing to higher exports and incomes. 

“We recognise the growing concerns that the rapid recent increases in overall net migration have given rise to. The vast majority of those increases, however, are in migrant categories other than work visas for medium and highly-skilled workers. Any reduction in those categories would result in stifling growth in the productive high-value industries that employ such workers, including manufacturing. 

“Student work visa and lower-skilled migration predominantly supplies workers to the lower-paid and low-value sectors like tourism and related hospitality industries. As Sir Paul Callaghan taught us, we need to steer our economy to where high-value and complex productive growth leads the way – increasing GDP per capita is a core path to prosperity for all in New Zealand. Part of achieving this requires ensuring we have the skills and talent such industries need to grow and innovate, through improving our education system to train New Zealanders and having effective immigration settings.

“Continually relying on growth of low-value industries for our future can actually take us backwards on this pathway to creating wealth, higher incomes and GDP per capita growth.  Manufacturing and our high-value productive industries, on the other hand, have the potential to lead the way in this area. ” Said Dieter.