Govt eye­ing ex­pan­sion of es­sen­tial skills im­mi­gra­tion

Cafe man­agers, car­pen­ters and teach­ers may be added to list

The Northern Advocate - - Nation - Si­mon Collins

Car­pen­ters, teach­ers and cafe and restau­rant man­agers may get fast-track per­mits to im­mi­grate to New Zealand un­der a new Gov­ern­ment pro­posal.

The three groups are among 14 jobs pro­posed to be added to the Es­sen­tial Skills in De­mand list, which makes it eas­ier for em­ploy­ers to hire work­ers from over­seas.

The build­ing in­dus­try and a teach­ers’ union wel­comed the pro­posal in view of se­vere short­ages in both sec­tors.

Mas­ter Builders Fed­er­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive David Kelly said he was “very pleased” the list in­cludes con­struc­tion project man­agers and build­ing as­so­ciates as well as car­pen­ters, glaziers, plum­bers, quan­tity sur­vey­ors and stone­ma­sons.

“A lot of the com­men­tary has been around trades skills like car­pen­ters and glaziers, and while that is ab­so­lutely true, just as big an is­sue is those project man­ager-type roles,” he said.

“We need to make sure that we have not just trade skills but peo­ple who are run­ning busi­nesses and projects, be­cause that is where a num­ber of the prob­lems start when in­ex­pe­ri­enced project man­agers just don’t know how to man­age some of the big­ger projects.”

NZ Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tute pres­i­dent Lynda Stu­art said her union would not op­pose adding pri­mary and early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion (ECE) teach­ers to the list.

“While we won’t op­pose teach­ers be­ing added to the list for the short term, clearly the qual­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity of both pri­mary and ECE work­forces are at risk. The ul­ti­mate losers will be chil­dren and their learn­ing,” she said.

She said other so­lu­tions could in­clude bring­ing back bond­ing schemes for teach­ers, sup­port­ing be­gin­ning teach­ers bet­ter and ex­tend­ing stu­dent al­lowances and loan el­i­gi­bil­ity.

The Post Pri­mary Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion said it would also not op­pose se­condary teach­ers be­ing added to the list.

Hos­pi­tal­ity NZ pol­icy and ad­vo­cacy man­ager Na­dine Mehlhopt said res­tau­rants and cafes would “ab­so­lutely” wel­come cafe and restau­rant man­agers be­ing added to the list.

“It’s some­thing we have been ask­ing for quite some time,” she said. She added that it was a mis­ap­pre­hen­sion that “any old body” could run a cafe.

“There is some quite sen­si­tive leg­is­la­tion that needs to be ad­hered to. There is a re­quire­ment that they have to ad­here to the Sale and Sup­ply of Al­co­hol Act, the Food Safety Act and now the Health and Safety in Em­ploy­ment Act.

“It’s not just deal­ing with the staff, but also deal­ing with cus­tomers. They have to be able to deal with young peo­ple and old peo­ple, peo­ple who may com­plain about things.

“Ob­vi­ously we would pre­fer if pos­si­ble to have New Zealan­ders first and fore­most, but the fact of the mat­ter is we just haven’t got them.”

She said a sur­vey in 2016 found that only 1 per cent of Hos­pi­tal­ity mem­bers were able to get a suit­able man­ager through Work and In­come, and 32 per cent said it took more than six months to find a suit­able man­ager.

The rest-home sec­tor will also be pleased to see aged-care nurses, al­though not care­givers, on the pro­posed list.

How­ever the Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment, which runs Im­mi­gra­tion NZ, has not ex­pressed a view on whether any of the 14 new oc­cu­pa­tions should be added to the es­sen­tial skills list and has as­sessed them all as hav­ing only “mod­er­ate” ev­i­dence of short­ages.

Jobs listed on the Jobs On­line in­dex de­clined in the year to June in 10 of the 14 oc­cu­pa­tions, and in­creased only for aged care nurses (up 27 per cent), fit­ters (up 14 per cent), glaziers (up 11 per cent) and wood ma­chin­ists (up 10 per cent).

Im­mi­gra­tion NZ granted 4684 es­sen­tial skills visas to peo­ple in the 14 oc­cu­pa­tions in the year to June, in­clud­ing 1962 car­pen­ters, 1043 cafe and restau­rant man­agers and 708 aged care nurses.

The visas granted to aged care nurses rep­re­sented 240 per cent of the to­tal 284 reg­is­tered nurses es­ti­mated to be em­ployed in aged care, al­though the min­istry noted that this was prob­a­bly due to clas­si­fi­ca­tion is­sues and asked for bet­ter in­for­ma­tion from the in­dus­try.

Visas granted in the year to June

rep­re­sented 15 per cent of all ex­ist­ing wood ma­chin­ists, 13 per cent of car­pen­ters, 7 per cent of stone­ma­sons and 6 per cent of cafe and restau­rant man­agers, but only min­i­mal per­cent­ages of the other nine oc­cu­pa­tions.

The pro­posed list is open for sub­mis­sions un­til Novem­ber 9 and a fi­nal list will be is­sued in Jan­uary.

PHOTO / MICHAEL CRAIG

Auck­land Gram­mar School graph­ics tech­nol­ogy teacher Alex John­son was re­cruited from Bri­tain at the start of this year.

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