Review of changes to immigration policy welcome

24 July 2017

We are pleased to hear that the Government is planning to review incoming immigration changes with a specific focus on how they will affect the regions.  Effectively addressing skills shortages in manufacturing and other sectors needs to remain a core part of our immigration system – notwithstanding changes that may be required to address other issues associated with current high levels of net migration, say the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association (NZMEA).

NZMEA Chief Executive, Dieter Adam said, “In particularly, the 12-month stand-down after three years did not make any sense to businesses – having to send quality workers back home not long after they completed the inevitable on-the-job training required to become fully productive and integral to their business operation.  The skills they may take with them often simply cannot currently be filled by New Zealanders.”

“Unlike in other sectors, labour shortages in manufacturing are almost completely in the skilled workers category, especially for those with trade skills and experience. 

“The Government’s approach to use pay levels as a surrogate for skill level was seen as a sensible approach by some of our members, where it was seen as potentially a smoother pathway to fill high income skill shortages, but others argued it is crude and has a number of issues. It ignores the fact, for example, of regional variation in pay for jobs at the same skill level, and it may unintentionally lead to wage inflation by artificially setting a base line across the country for what machine operators, for example, should be paid.

“The NZMEA is not simply advocating for a continuation of current immigration policies and practises, which have led to immigration outcomes that may well be unsustainable in some areas.  The Government needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with changes that address these issues without cutting off the much needed supply of migrants to fill skill shortages, especially in the regions outside of Auckland.”  Said Dieter.